With the limited-overs leg of the England tour done and dusted, the focus now shifts on to the upcoming five-match Test rubber between India and England, starting August 1 at Edgbaston, Birmingham. As the ODI and T20I stalwarts took a long flight back home, new faces have flown in to take the centre stage in whites.
One such known face is of India’s most experienced spinner – Ravichandran Ashwin, who has arrived in England with 316 wickets (58 Tests) against his name and a great reputation especially in the traditional format of the game. Despite being a proven performer in Tests, the 31-year old off-spinner has lately been overshadowed since the emergence of wrist-spinners like Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav in the limited-overs circuit.
If the reports are to be believed, Ashwin’s ‘once certain’ spot in the Test team also seems to be under the pump after Kuldeep’s impressive outing against England in T20I and ODI series. But, the former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly believes it is too early to write-off the ace off-spinner and his importance will be crucial for the visitors during the much-hyped series against England.
Speaking about Ashwin’s calibre and role in the Indian Test team, Ganguly believes Ashwin’s tally of 300 wickets speaks a lot about his credentials. “You can’t let him (Ashwin) fade away. 300 wickets is not a matter of joke. It’s a common trend that what’s not playing is probably better but it’s not the case sometimes,” said Dada in a chat with Harsha Bhogle on Cricbuzz.
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He also spoke about the ever-growing competition for spinners in the Indian squad. Recently, Kuldeep Yadav was included in the 18-man India squad for first three Tests.
Several rumours have been doing the rounds that Kuldeep will get the nod above Ashwin in the playing XI. The CAB president also pin-pointed numerous examples of how Ashwin has recently improvised his skill-set and worked hard on his skills to add new weapons to his already illustrious armoury.
“Ashwin has a place in the side, he will reinvent himself because he has been challenged, he has felt competition in the squad. He knows Kuldeep is up for his Test place, which will happen very shortly if India win the T20Is and ODIs (analysis from before the start of the tour), so he will reinvent,” Ganguly said.
“You saw the leg spin in IPL and he will get better. People must realise that 300 wickets don’t come like that, so he deserves a lot more opportunities,” he added.
India’s Test Squad for First 3 Matches: Virat Kohli (C), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur.