Former Australia captain Ian Chappell has stated that while India are a very good side, they need to find a way to fit in off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in their playing XI consistently. Chappell described Ashwin as a fine bowler under all conditions.
Ashwin did not play in any of the four Tests in the series against England as Ravindra Jadeja was preferred as the lone spinner. The fifth match of the Test series in Manchester was canceled after COVID-19 cases hit the Indian camp.
Writing in his column for ESPNcricinfo, Chappell opined that even though India are a very good team, it doesn’t mean that they cannot get better. He explained:
“There’s no doubt that India are a very good all-round team. They have conclusively proved it by winning consecutive series in Australia and now having had success in England, albeit Covid-affected, while they are virtually unbeatable at home. However, that isn’t to say they can’t improve. That’s how good teams remain at or near the top – by constantly searching for ways to be better. Herbie Collins, a shrewd Australian captain of the 1920s, reckoned the most important aspect of selection was finding the right combination.”
According to the former cricketer, India must have Ashwin in the XI at all times because he is someone who can deliver under all conditions. Chappell added:
“India’s best combination includes R Ashwin. He is a fine bowler under all conditions, as he proved in Australia, so India need to find a way to fit him into the XI. In trying to find a balance between the right- and left-hand batters in the middle order at The Oval, they may have inadvertently stumbled on the solution – Ravindra Jadeja at No. 5. If Jadeja proves good enough to hold down that spot in the order, the other piece required to complete the puzzle is a seam-bowling allrounder. The ideal player would be a fully fit Hardik Pandya, but they do have a second choice in Shardul Thakur.”
India were leading the series against England 2-1 when the fifth Test was canceled. The ECB has written to the ICC to adjudicate on the result of the final Test which could not be played.
“Tweaking the Indian middle order to accommodate the skills of Ashwin should be a priority” – Chappell
Chappell further wrote that if Ashwin’s inclusion in the playing XI needs tweaks in the middle-order, the selectors and team management should not hesitate in taking that step. Chappell explained:
“The art of good selection is to be constantly looking for ways to make even a top-class team better. The priority is always to win the next match, but this should be achieved with one eye on the future. Tweaking the Indian middle order to accommodate the skills of Ashwin should be a priority for the selectors. It’s a scary thought for the other Test sides that Virat Kohli’s highly successful team can be improved.”
The 77-year-old pointed out that a middle-order featuring Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Pandya and Ashwin should be able to score a decent number of runs. Chappell concluded:
“A middle order that reads Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Pandya and Ashwin should provide the runs expected of that section. With three fast bowlers to follow, the batting is then supported by a versatile attack. That’s the advantage of having a strong, well-balanced attack – you don’t need huge scores to chase victory. The simplest equation for winning Test matches is for the batters to score quickly in order to give the bowlers enough time to take 20 wickets.”
Meanwhile, Ashwin and other members of the Delhi Capitals (DC) franchise arrived in Dubai on Sunday to take part in the second half of IPL 2021.