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Ravichandran Ashwin set for return as India close in on 2-1 series lead

The spinning great will take India back up to their full complement at some point on Sunday afternoon.

David Charlesworth
Sunday 18 February 2024 06:31 GMT
Ravichandran Ashwin is set to boost India’s victory push against England (Ajit Solanki/AP)
Ravichandran Ashwin is set to boost India’s victory push against England (Ajit Solanki/AP) (AP)

Ravichandran Ashwin is set to return to the fold for India against England on the penultimate day of the third Test in Rajkot.

Ashwin’s withdrawal from the Test on Friday evening to tend to a family medical emergency effectively left India down to 10 players as he could only be replaced in the field and not with bat or ball.

But the spinning great will take India back up to their full complement at some point on Sunday afternoon and be available immediately as they look to move into a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.

A statement from Jay Shah, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, said: “Both R Ashwin and the team management are pleased to confirm that he will be back in action on day four.

“The team management, players, media and fans have shown immense understanding and empathy, acknowledging the importance of family as a priority.

“The team and its supporters have stood united in support of Ashwin during this challenging period, and the management is delighted to welcome him back to the field.

“Ashwin and his family kindly request privacy as they navigate through these challenging times.”

Ashwin celebrated his 500th Test wicket just a few hours before pulling out and heading “to Chennai to be with his mother”, according to BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla on X.

Despite India being a bowler down in his absence, England threw away a promising position of 224 for two as they were all out for 319 and a deficit of 126 after the first innings.

India have since swelled their advantage and Ashwin’s impending return will aid their cause when England go off in pursuit of what would be a world record chase in the fourth innings.

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