India have made two changes (Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur in place of Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma) for the fourth Test against England at The Oval on Thursday. However, star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has once again been left out of the playing XI as skipper Virat Kohli again decided to stick to his four pacers and a spinner combination.
Several cricket experts and fans were asking for R Ashwin's inclusion in the team after India lost the third Test by an innings and 76 runs at Headingley, however, he was ignored for the fourth time in the ongoing series.
Meanwhile, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has also reacted to Ashwin's non-inclusion. Taking to Twitter, he wrote, "I can't believe they left out Ashwin again, on England's most spin-friendly ground. This team is unbelievable. You pick your five best bowlers, @ashwinravi99 has to be the first or second name. Omitting him & @MdShami11 at the Oval is like a death-wish -- as if you want to lose!"
Former cricketers Michael Vaughan and Mark Waugh also slammed the team management after Ashwin's non-inclusion.
Former England skipper Michael Vaughan termed the non-selection of the off-spinner in the Indian lineup as "madness". "The non selection of @ashwinravi99 has to be greatest NON selection we have ever witnessed across 4 Tests in the UK !!! 413 Test wickets & 5 Test 100s !!!! #ENGvIND Madness," tweeted Vaughan.
Former Australian cricketer Mark Waugh said Ashwin's non-selection was unfathomable. "Makes you wonder if the Indian think tank have any clue.#unfathomable," he tweeted.
Meanwhile, England skipper Joe Root won the toss and decided to bowl first.
Speaking at the toss, Root said: "We're going to bowl first. Going to make use of the overhead conditions. Looks like a good morning for bowling, we need to still hit the right lines and lengths, like we did at Headingley. We've got two changes -- Ollie Pope in for Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes comes in for Sam Curran. Chris (Woakes) knows his body well and we all know about his performances. (On being the top-ranked batter) It does feel nice but obviously has no standing on this game."
India skipper Virat Kohli said: "We would have bowled first as well but toss isn't something you can control. Need to be prepared for either. We're looking forward to putting runs on the board. Two changes -- Ishant and Shami have niggles -- Umesh and Shardul are back. For us, it's about partnerships, we can't focus too much on individuals. The opening partnerships have been good, it's about getting more partnerships. We got a few days left on this tour, the series is poised nicely and there is going to be no shortage of effort from our side."
England: Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root(c), Ollie Pope, Jonny Bairstow(w), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Craig Overton, Ollie Robinson, James Anderson.
India: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant(w), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.