Former Australian skipper Ian Chappell reckons India’s best playing combination includes Ravichandran Ashwin in their Test side.
India didn’t surprisingly play Ashwin in the first four Test matches against England despite his vast experience. Ashwin had scalped four wickets in the WTC final against New Zealand.
The off-spinner has drastically improved his bowling in overseas conditions and he had also snared 12 wickets in three Test matches against Australia. On the other hand, Ravindra Jadeja was played in all the four-Test matches for his batting credentials.
However, Jadeja could not deliver the goods with the ball in the first three Test matches as he could only scalp two wickets.
Meanwhile, Ashwin could also contribute while batting down the order. Ashwin’s exclusion in the Test series was widely criticized by the cricket experts. The veteran off-spinner is currently placed at no.2 rank in the ICC Test rankings and he has all the experience under his belt. The off-spinner from Tamil Nadu has snared 413 wickets in 79 Test matches.
Ian Chappell wrote in his column for ESPN Cricinfo, “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.”
“India’s best combination includes R Ashwin. He is a fine bowler under all conditions, as he proved in Australia, so India needs 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.”
The former Aussie captain, known for his deep analysis, believes India should tweak its middle-order to accommodate Ravichandran Ashwin. India’s middle-order hasn’t been consistent in the last couple of years and Ajinkya Rahane is struggling for form.
“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 fifth Test match was cancelled due to Covid-19 concerns in the Indian camp. The Indian players will be now seen in action in the second phase of IPL.