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Ashwin out of Test after reaching major milestone as Duckett's Bazball blitz gives England a fighting chance

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16th February, 2024
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India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has withdrawn from the third Test against England in Rajkot because of a family medical emergency.

Ashwin became just the ninth bowler and second Indian after Anil Kumble to reach 500 Test wickets on Friday when he dismissed Zak Crawley in the final session of the second day. 

But just a few hours after the close of play, the Board of Cricket for Control in India announced Ashwin had immediately pulled out of the squad, with his availability for the last three days unknown. 

“In these challenging times, the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the team fully supports Ashwin,” read a statement from the BCCI secretary Jay Shah. 

“The BCCI extends its heartfelt support to the champion cricketer and his family. The health and well-being of the players and their loved ones are of utmost importance. 

“The board requests respect for the privacy of Ashwin and his family as they navigate through this challenging time.” 

A tweet from BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla added: “Wishing speedy recovery of mother of @ashwinravi99. He has to rush and leave Rajkot test to Chennai to be with his mother.” 

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It seems unlikely India, who have been unable to call upon star batter Virat Kohli for this five-match series because of personal reasons, will be able to replace Ashwin if he does not return in the Test. 

While the MCC, the game’s lawmakers, states a player can be replaced at any point with “the consent of the opposing captain”, the World Test Championship’s regulations are more ambiguous. 

The World Test Championship rules, which supersedes the laws, seems to suggest a change of player can only occur after the toss, when the teams have been named, but before play has gotten under way. 

It was an eventful day for Ashwin, whose 37 in India’s 445 all out was overshadowed by him conceding five penalty runs after being found to have encroached on to the protected area of the playing surface.

England opener Ben Duckett smashed an 88-ball hundred to lead the touring team’s robust reply. His 133 not out off 118 balls, which contained two sixes and 21 fours, powered England to 2-207 on Friday at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.

RAJKOT, INDIA - FEBRUARY 16: India bowler Ravi Ashwin celebrates after taking the wicket of Zak Crawley to reach his 500th Test Wicket during day two of the 3rd Test Match between India and England at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on February 16, 2024 in Rajkot, India. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Ravi Ashwin celebrates after taking the wicket of Zak Crawley to reach his 500th milestone. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Apart from Ashwin’s milestone moment it was a day of hard toil for India as England scored nearly at a run-a-ball.

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Joe Root was still there on nine at stumps with England trailing India by 238 in the third match of the five-Test series, which is poised at 1-1.

Earlier, debutant Dhruv Jurel (46) and Ashwin (37) mounted a spirited rearguard while Jasprit Bumrah (26) provided a late cameo to take India near the 450-mark.

After India resumed on 5-326, James Anderson removed Thursday’s nightwatchman Kuldeep Yadav, caught behind for four.

Ravindra Jadeja, who completed his fourth Test hundred on day one, looked surprisingly tentative and gave a return catch to bowler Root to depart after 112, which included two sixes and nine fours.

Ashwin and Jurel frustrated England with their 77-run partnership and survived Mark Wood’s short-ball barrage with a heavily-manned leg side.

England were rather sloppy on the field and Jurel was dropped twice – first by Ollie Pope at midwicket and then by England captain Ben Stokes at leg slip.

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Rehan Ahmed denied Jurel a fifty in the batter’s debut Test and Wood (4-114) dismissed Bumrah, the last Indian wicket to fall.

When England batted, Duckett initially looked ill at ease against Mohammed Siraj’s lively pace but he soon grew in confidence, racing to a 39-ball fifty but lost opening partner Zak Crawley.

Crawley attempted to sweep Ashwin only to top-edge the ball to Rajat Patidar at short fine leg.

Ashwin became the ninth bowler, and fifth spinner, to take 500 wickets.

Duckett deflated the Indian attack batting with the kind of aggression which has become the hallmark of the team under Stokes.

The 29-year-old brought up his third Test hundred with a four off Siraj.

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Siraj lifted India’s sagging morale late in the final session when he trapped Pope lbw for 39. The batter was initially adjudged not out but the decision was overturned on review.

“Five hundred wickets is done and dusted now. We’ve got a game hanging in the balance,” Ashwin said afterwards. “The game is going neck and neck. We’ll have to bat and bowl well to stay in the game.” 

© AAP

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