'Kohli, Shastri must tell Ashwin, Jadeja they can get wickets': Maninder Singh picks India's bowlers for WTC final

ByAritra Mukherjee
Jun 06, 2021 08:08 AM IST

In his only Test in 2014, Jadeja picked up 5 wickets while Ashwin in his lone attempt here in 2018, could manage only 3. But in both of those Tests, the opposition finger spinner Moeen Ali, picked up a total of 17 wickets, scripting India’s downfall not once but twice.

A World Test Championship final in England with the Dukes' ball. Two sides possessing just the perfect combination of swing, seam, youth, and experience to make that ball talk. Ideally, there could not have been a better setting for the seamers vs batsmen battle. But India, unlike their opponents New Zealand, have the ability to test the batsmen not only with pace but also with spin. In Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, India perhaps have the most potent spin-bowling combination in world cricket. Former India cricketer Maninder Singh believes Virat Kohli and the team management should use that to their advantage and play both of them together in the WTC final starting on June 18 in Southampton.

Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin.(File)
Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin.(File)

The Ageas Bowl – one of England’s modern Test venues – has shown little signs of being drastically different compared to the other grounds in the country. In other words, swing bowlers have dominated the proceedings here, picking 137 of the 176 wickets in the 6 Tests. Ashwin and Jadeja’s record at the venue doesn’t ooze much confidence either. In his only Test in 2014, Jadeja picked up 5 wickets while Ashwin in his lone attempt here in 2018, could manage only 3. But in both of those Tests, the opposition finger spinner Moeen Ali, picked up a total of 17 wickets, scripting India’s downfall not once but twice.

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Maninder is not known to be a numbers man. During the conversation, he gave no hints to suggest his fondness for Moeen's off-spin either but he sure does know a thing or two about the importance of spin-bowling in England. A bright spot in India’s 1986 tour to England, the former left-arm spinner said the Indian finger spinners can play a decisive role in the WTC final.

Also read: New Zealand remain in control despite Burns ton for England

“If I was in the team management, I would play both Ashwin and Jadeja. They can be a huge factor,” Maninder told Hindustan Times in an exclusive chat.

“There is going to be wear and tear anywhere as the Test match progresses. I keep talking to my friends there (in England) and they say it has become hot, these summer temperatures will soar. So if it is going to be the way it is then moisture won’t be that be effective. The pitch will dry out and spinners will start getting purchase and both are spinners are of good quality,” he added.

India have not preferred playing Ashwin and Jadeja together in an overseas Test. In England, they have done it only once in 2014 at Manchester without much success. But this time, things might be different. Maninder says, because of Jadeja’s current form with the bat and Rishabh Pant’s match-winning abilities at No.6, India have the luxury of going with their most balanced bowling attack of two spinners and three spinners.

“Jadeja’s recent form with the bat has been exceptional. He has worked on his batting a lot. He gives you an extra option of having another bowler. The confidence of scoring runs has rubbed off on his bowling.”

Ashwin, who has a picked up 14 wickets in his 6 Tests in England, is a different bowler now, feels Maninder. The left-armer who played 35 Tests for India in the 1980s and early 90s, said Ashwin proved that in his last tour to Australia with an attitude to go for wickets.

“Ashwin is a class act. Ashwin has improved a lot and he can now get you wickets on any track, which was not the case when he first started touring overseas. He never used to give you the feeling that he was going for wickets. He didn’t have the belief. But now, with the experience he is a different bowler,” he said.

Virat Kohli, Ravi Shastri's role important

Captain Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri will have an important role to play in using both Ashwin and Jadeja as wicket-taking options rather than just a support for Bumrah, Shami, and Ishant.

“We’ve seen how Ashwin bowls on Indian pitches. He has got to have that approach. When he bowls his aim should always be to get wickets. I have never had any doubt in my mind that he will give you wickets even on foreign soils. It depends on the team management. On Kohli and Shastri... How they keep motivating him. They've got to tell him 'you are going to get wickets for us.' Ravi Shastri has been brilliant in managing the players so far. He’ll have to go the extra mile if they want to win this WTC title.

“At this level cricketers hardly need advice. It’s that slight push. That believe that you are going to wickets even on foreign soil has to be there,” Maninder said.

When asked about the choice of seamers that India should go with in the WTC final, Maninder picked Bumrah, Shami and Ishant.

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    Aritra Mukherjee, who happens to be a journalist, is in an eternal relationship with food and sleep. He can, however, sacrifice both or at least the latter for his love-affair with cricket. 'He said,' 'he added,' 'he signed off' are some of his favourite phrases. When not juggling between food, sleep and cricket, he wastes time by surfing OTT platforms.

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