IND vs ENG 3rd Test: Can Ravichandran Ashwin bowl immediately after returning to team on Day 4?

The Indian cricket team is anticipating a significant reinforcement as ace all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin is poised to return to the playing eleven on Day 4 of the ongoing India vs England 3rd Test at Rajkot. Ashwin had to leave the squad temporarily due to an urgent family matter after the conclusion of Day 2 and was not present during the proceedings of the third day’s play. With the game moving forward, Devdutt Padikkal was named as his substitute. However, Padikkal’s participation was restricted to fielding duties alone, as he was not designated to contribute with either batting or bowling.

The return of the seasoned spinner was confirmed by the Indian cricket board on the morning of Day 4, to the relief of both the team and its supporters. A statement clarified, “Both R Ashwin and the team management are pleased to confirm that he will be back in action on Day 4 and will continue to contribute towards the team cause in the ongoing Test match.”

According to the standard laws of cricket as dictated by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), players who are not on the field at the beginning of play, or who leave at any point thereafter, are typically ineligible to bowl immediately upon their return. They must endure what is known as a ‘penalty time’ based on the specifications outlined in Sections 24.2.3 to 24.2.7 and 24.3 of the MCC rules. This is often a safeguard to ensure fairness in the game.

However, these same regulations allow for some leeway. If the umpires believe that a player has been absent or has left the field for wholly acceptable reasons, which do not include illness or internal injury, they have the discretion to waive the required penalty time. This provision is in place to accommodate unexpected and exceptional circumstances.

Dinesh Karthik, the Indian cricketer-turned-commentator, shed light on this aspect during the Day 3 commentary. He relayed to viewers that Ashwin is not bound by the typical constraints after his unscheduled absence. “Ravi Ashwin can come anytime during this Test Match and bowl straightaway. The umpires have given Ashwin that favor,” Karthik commented.

Ashwin’s return is timely for India, as his prowess with both the bat and the ball has been crucial to the team’s strategy and performance. His skill set not only adds depth to the bowling attack but also fortifies the lower-middle order batting, providing Team India with a perfect blend of aggressive and defensive play. The spinner’s exceptional record, especially in home conditions, is a testament to his ability to engineer game-changing moments and apply pressure on the opposition.

As the Rajkot Test progresses, India’s tactics could be significantly influenced by Ashwin’s availability. Whether it’s deploying him to stem the flow of runs or to pry out vital wickets, his versatility allows the captain greater flexibility in field settings and bowling changes.

The fans, too, await Ashwin’s return with bated breath, anticipating the characteristic guile and tenacity he brings to the field. His performance can inspire the team in crunch situations, turning the tide of the game in favor of the home side.

As Day 4 unfolds, all eyes will be on Ravichandran Ashwin to deliver what he does best. If the umpires’ concession stands, the spinner could be seen weaving his magic with the ball without delay, impacting the balance of play in this gripping Test encounter. With the match poised at a critical juncture, his reintegration could be the catalyst India needs to mount pressure and claim dominance, a factor England will be wary of as they take to the field in anticipation of Ashwin’s imminent bowling spells.

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