India’s bowling coach Bharath Arun confirmed that all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is fully fit ahead of the fourth Test at The Oval, but said that a decision on the participation of Ravichandran Ashwin will only be taken on the morning of the Test.
Ashwin, who sat out each of the first three Tests, was expected to be a definite starter at The Oval, a wicket that has historically aided spin, but Arun, speaking on the eve of the fourth Test, asserted that the off-spinner will be integrated into the side only if the management feels that there is an opportunity for the visitors to employ two spinners.
The 58-year-old asserted that despite the history of The Oval, the Indian side expect the hosts to dish out a seam-friendly wicket that will negate the threat of Ashwin.
"Ashwin, no doubt, is one of the best bowlers we have and it's unfortunate that he has not played so far but if there is an opportunity and if we feel that he is going to fit into the scheme of things, they will definitely both be bowling in tandem," Arun said in the press conference on the eve of the fourth Test.
"History at the Oval says that it aids spin but you also know how the Englishmen are wary of Ashwin's abilities of what he could do if there is any assistance from the track.
"The best thing would be to decide after looking at the track tomorrow morning as anything could happen between now and tomorrow. So we will look at it tomorrow morning and decide."
Arun also confirmed that 25-year-old Prasidh Krishna was added to the squad as a mere precaution, and played down suggestions that the Karnataka pacer might feature at The Oval.
“He has been included in the side considering all the workload management issues. There is nothing more to it than that,” Arun said of Prasidh.
The visitors played catch-up at Headingley starting from the very first day, after being bowled out for 78, but despite the batsmen misfiring, it was a lacklustre effort with the ball from India, who let England post 432 in the only innings the hosts batted. Both Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Siraj were taken to the cleaners by England, with Mohammed Shami (4/95) proving to be the only silver lining.
But despite the bowlers not matching the high standards they’ve set for themselves, the bowling coach defended the pace battery. Arun claimed that the Headingley showing was an aberration, and insisted that by getting bowled out for 78, the batters put undue pressure on the bowlers on a flat wicket.
"It's a challenge for bowlers to defend low scores and they have done it in the past. I don't think it's fair to pull up the bowlers if they haven't done it on one occasion and you have got to realise we are playing closely fought international series," Arun said.
The man responsible for the Indian bowlers getting dismantled at Headingley was none other than England skipper Joe Root, who currently has scored 255 more runs than any other batsman in the series. Not only is Root the highest run-getter in this series thus far, he also has scored at an incredibly quick rate, with his SR of 61.38 being the best among all batters who have scored 100 or more runs in the series.
Root has, far too often, been allowed to get off the blocks quickly in this series, and Arun revealed that the Indian bowlers, at The Oval, will attempt to frustrate the England skipper by not allowing him to make a quick start.
"We have given him pretty fast starts and obviously we look deep in those areas and stem those,” Arun said of Root.
In 2014 India let slip a 1-0 advantage and went on to lose the series 3-1, but Arun asserted that this current Indian side, under Kohli, will definitely bounce back at The Oval. Bouncing back from heavy defeats has been a hallmark of this Indian side, and the bowling coach attested that the fans will be witness to a ‘spirited performance’ from the visitors come the fourth Test.
"We have done it in the past, we were bowled out for 36 and bounced back. Also against England at home, we came back after big defeat (in Chennai). We can take confidence from what we have done in past. You will see a lot more spirited performance."