Pakistan have last laugh after India omit Ashwin

Hafeez expresses surprise at Dhoni's decision to play Jadeja

India may have lost the plot by not playing their leading spinner in the shorter format of the game Ravichandran Ashwin in the first Twenty20 international against Pakistan on Tuesday.

Ashwin was a surprise omission for the match at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore which Pakistan won by five wickets with two balls to spare.

India opted to go in with left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja ahead of Ashwin for the match which marked the resumption of bilateral series between the two south Asian giants after a gap of five years.

Jadeja bowled 2.4 overs, including the final one of the game, and was carted for 29 runs, with Shoaib Malik blasting two sixes off the bowler, including the winning hit.

"It was a surprise for us that they didn't play (Ashwin), at the end we are happy that we won the game," Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez was quoted as saying in Cricinfo.

"So our plan was that if we play out the new ball, then their spinners are not world-class; I know Yuvraj is in great form, but when you don't have a world-class spinner then we can dominate," said Hafeez who figured in a match-winning partnership of 106 for the third wicket with Malik.

India defending a modest total of 133 failed to drive home the advantage after a dream spell by debutant Bhuvaneshwar Kumar who captured three wickets had Pakistan on the ropes at 12 for 3.
 
Indian skipper MS Dhoni, however, defended the decision saying Ashwin was more of a threat with the new ball.

"Ashwin has been one of our main bowlers, he had to bowl in the first six overs a lot," Dhoni said. "Once we had three seamers, we wanted to give Jadeja a chance also, and once the field has opened up in the last two games Ashwin has also gone for runs, (though) he has bowled beautifully in the first six overs."
 
The fact that only one of Pakistan's top seven batsmen was a left-hander influenced his decision.

"They had lots of right-hand batsmen, and if we needed an offspinner, we had Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina. If we needed an option of a left-arm spinner in case Yuvi had a bad day, we wouldn't have any option in the XI (if Jadeja was left out)."
 
This was only the second Twenty20 match Ashwin has missed since his debut against Zimbabwe in 2010; the other one was the dead rubber against England in the World Twenty20.

Ashwin himself was philosophical about his omission: "Even Fernando Torres has to sit out for Chelsea."
 
It remains to be seen whether Ashwin will be recalled from the bench for the second T20 match on Friday.

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