A month and half again, Ravichandran Ashwin was eloquently explaining on his Tamil YouTube channel, why a expertise like Tilak Varma must be severely thought of for the ODI World Cup. One of India’s best match-winners in Test cricket would not probably have envisaged that in six weeks time he can be summoned for a two-match trial towards Washington Sundar — almost a decade and half junior to him. Close choice calls are par for course in relation to World Cup squads. But simply two weeks earlier than the mega occasion, the Indian crew administration has referred to as the 2 off-spinners for the three-match collection towards Australia to maintain a prepared back-up possibility in case Axar Patel’s quadriceps tear does not heal on time.
It will likely be a digital shoot-out and their performances on flat decks of Mohali and Rajkot will likely be monitored by Ajit Agarkar’s choice committee.
“I think Ashwin will be slightly ahead now that a bowler of his stature has been called into the mix. I have always felt that Ashwin should have been in the mix from the time the team got into the ODI World Cup mode,” stated former chairman of selectors MSK Prasad, who was at helm when the 2019 squad was chosen.
So, who will likely be his decide if Axar cannot make it to the World Cup? “Look, let us hope that Axar is fit for the final ODI in Rajkot. Because if he is fit, however well Ashwin or Washy bowl, it will be Axar who will retain his place. If he has been your pick ahead of these two, then you have to have him if he is good to go,” Prasad set the file straight.
“But this is one of the most fascinating World Cup trials that you will get (to see). Question is: if they are looking at a 50-50 batting-bowling option then it is Washy. But if they are looking at a purely spin bowling option, then Ash holds an edge as far as I am concerned,” Prasad said.
Harbhajan Singh, however, has a contrarian viewpoint.
The ‘Turbantor’ believes that if the team management and selectors took an informed decision to summon Washington in Colombo for the Asia Cup final and even fielded him in the playing XI, then he should be the first-choice replacement.
“Washington bowls well in Powerplays. He is a brilliant fielder and last but not the least is a left-hander in that lower middle order. So, he does come as a package,” said Harbhajan.
Another national selector, who refused to be named, had an interesting take on the Washington vs Ashwin debate.
“No offence meant but Axar’s supposed hamstring injury could just be a blessing in disguise. The decision to have a right-arm finger spinner should have been taken long back and now, perhaps, at eleventh hour, they have got that opportunity,” the selector, who has seen some pitched battles between previous captains and selection committees, said.
He then decoded the whole issue that the Indian team is facing.
“Not denying that Axar played two crucial knocks in the Asia Cup and one was in a winning cause against Sri Lanka. But just look at his bowling on a track that offered considerable turn. If Charith Asalanka is picking up four wickets and you (Axar) are not even getting most of your deliveries to turn, it is a problem,” added the former selector.
“Mind it, Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) is lethal when there is help off the surface and doubly so, if Ashwin is operating at the other end. Also, why did they call two off-spinners and not a like-for-like replacement. The next in line are Shahbaz Ahmed and Abhishek Sharma (left-arm spin and left-handed bat). These two are okay for Asian Games level but certainly not for the World Cup,” he added.
“Also in the meanwhile, they requested Ashwin to report for his health replace at NCA (after the Super 4 towards Pakistan, if one goes by his Instagram deal with), you’d know that he’s in line and there’s a clear dilemma in Rohit (Sharma), Rahul (Dravid) and Ajit (Agarkar)’s thoughts as to who’s the best choice.
“Is it a bits and pieces cricketer like Washy or someone like Ashwin, who can turn a game or two on Indian tracks? Hence they called both,” the selector said.
Prasad agreed to the point.
“I consider a number of the tracks will provide assist for spinners. In Chennai, take into consideration Ashwin’s attainable match-up towards Steve Smith or a left-hander like David Warner. Yes, his successes got here within the pink ball (cricket) however simply take into consideration the probabilities,” the former India stumper added.
Topics talked about on this article