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Hayden and Ponting Criticize India’s Decision to Drop R Ashwin in WTC Final

The exclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin, India’s premier off-spinner, from the squad for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia has drawn criticism from Australian cricket legends Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting. Ashwin, currently ranked as the number one bowler in Test cricket and India’s leading wicket-taker in the WTC cycle, was left out as India opted to strengthen their pace attack with four seamers. Hayden and Ponting expressed their disapproval of this decision, questioning the absence of Ashwin and its impact on the match.

Ashwin’s Absence and Hayden’s Perspective:

Matthew Hayden, speaking to the ICC after day one’s proceedings, expressed his belief that Ashwin’s absence was a significant factor. Hayden highlighted that Ashwin had been the leading wicket-taker in the Test cycle and emphasized the importance of his presence in the Indian team. He pointed out several factors worth considering from Team India’s perspective.

Ponting Calls Ashwin’s Exclusion a Mistake:

Ricky Ponting, a World Cup-winning captain, echoed Hayden’s sentiments and termed the decision to drop Ashwin a “mistake.” Ponting believed that playing four seamers was an error, considering the conditions and the opposition’s left-handed batsmen. He acknowledged Ashwin’s effectiveness against left-handers and expressed his confidence that as the game progressed, there would be a turn on the pitch, making Ashwin’s absence more noticeable.

Debate Over Rohit Sharma’s Toss Decision:

There was also discussion regarding Rohit Sharma’s decision to bowl first after winning the toss. Hayden believed that Sharma may have “missed a trick” by not opting to bat first. He speculated that Australia, despite Pat Cummins expressing his preference to bowl, would have preferred to bat first in Tests. Hayden felt that Sharma focused more on playing the day rather than strategizing for the entire Test match.

Travis Head’s Dominance and Comparisons to Adam Gilchrist:

The first day belonged to Travis Head, who played aggressively and scored an impressive 146 runs from just 156 deliveries. Hayden and Ponting compared Head’s attacking style to that of Adam Gilchrist, the legendary wicketkeeper-batsman. Hayden noted that Head’s ability to score at a strike rate of 80-plus in a high-pressure tournament like the WTC was exceptional and likened him to Gilchrist’s ability to put pressure on the opposition.

Ponting added that Head’s strike rate during the WTC qualification period (81) was higher than anyone else in the world who had scored over 500 runs. He emphasized the need for perfect execution when bowling to Head, as any loose deliveries would be punished due to his aggressive approach.

The decision to drop Ravichandran Ashwin from the Indian squad for the WTC final and field four seamers instead has drawn criticism from Australian cricket legends Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting. Both expressed their disapproval, highlighting Ashwin’s absence as a questionable move. Hayden felt that Ashwin’s presence was crucial, considering his status as the leading wicket-taker in the Test cycle. Ponting believed it was a mistake not to include Ashwin, especially against Australia’s left-handed batsmen. The ongoing match will reveal the impact of India’s decision and whether it will affect the outcome of the WTC final.

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