Ishant Sharma could be dropped for Oval Test, Ashwin may get his first game

India’s senior-most pacer Ishant Sharma may not find place in the playing XI in the remaining two Tests against England after an indifferent show in the third match, which the visitor lost by an innings and 76 runs.
Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin


Ishant’s figures of 22-0-92-0 were worst among the Indian pacers as England scored 432 runs but more importantly, the veteran looked jaded. The gingerly run-up never transformed into the bustling Ishant that the fans are accustomed to watch. 
He bowled primarily in the late 120kmph and early 130kmph but was hardly penetrative, effectively turning India’s attack into three-pronged pace unit. 
There has been no confirmation whether Ishant, who has had a history of ankle injuries as well as side strain issues, was fully fit during the third Test match. 
Skipper Virat Kohli refused to speak about Ishant’s performance after the match but did indicate that there will be changes keeping in mind the workload of the pace bowlers. 
Meanwhile, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja’s knee scan report hasn’t revealed any significant damage but off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin looks favourite to start in the fourth Test at the Oval from September 2. 
It is still not clear whether India will plan to go in with two specialist spinners but Ashwin, who had a great county game for Surrey at the same venue won’t be benched at least in this game. 
In case of Ishant going out, the choice would again be between Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur. Shardul with his better batting abilities has his nose ahead but Umesh is certainly a better red ball bowler than the Mumbaikar. 
But with Kohli clearly pointing out that workload will be monitored, it remains to be seen whether the seasoned Mohammed Shami is rested to keep him fresh for the final Test or Jasprit Bumrah. 
Buttler out of fourth Test 
Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler will miss the fourth Test against India starting on Thursday because his wife is expecting their second child. Jonny Bairstow, who played as a specialist batsman in the first three Tests, will keep wicket in his absence. All-rounder Chris Woakes returns to a 15-man squad after a heel injury. 
Pace bowler Mark Wood has recovered from the shoulder problem that kept him out of the innings-and-76-run win.

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