Mumbai: Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar feels while Ravichandran Ashwin might be lacking a bit in wicket-taking abilities in the middle overs in Twenty20 cricket, he has mastered the art of being economical, which complements an aggressive wicket-taking bowler like Yuzvendra Chahal.
Ashwin has done well in the ongoing five-match T20I series against the West Indies, with the 35-year-old off-spinner taking two wickets in the opening match as India defeated the hosts by 68 runs in Trinidad.
“I think Ashwin’s selection on this tour (of West Indies) was an excellent one. In the last couple of years in the Indian T20 league, Ashwin has started making an impact. I like Ashwin when he’s with somebody like (Yuzvendra) Chahal. So, the onus is not on Ashwin to change the tide. You know, the spinner’s job in T20 cricket, in the middle phase is to get wickets like Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj do for South Africa,” opined Manjrekar on Sports18’s show ‘Sports Over The Top’.
“That’s where Ashwin lacked a bit as a T20 spinner. He focused a lot on the economy, but when you have somebody like Chahal, or if there’s another wicket-taking wrist spinner, then Ashwin becomes a great complement because Ashwin has mastered the art of being economical in T20 cricket. In the first T20, a couple of wickets was a great sign, but that’s what you’ll get with Ashwin, that complement the other main wicket-taking spinner in the team,” said Manjrekar.
Manjrekar also felt Ashwin could be in the mix for the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia later this year, adding there’ll be a lot of competition for the spinners’ slots in the squad.
“Who are his (Ashwin’s) competitors now? You’ve got Chahal who’s confirmed for spinner on current form. Then you’ve got Axar Patel, you’ve got (Ravindra) Jadeja who could do a bit of bowling. (Deepak) Hooda bowled one over in the last game, then you’ve got Kuldeep Yadav, you’ve got Ravichandran Ashwin.”
The former cricketer added it is unlikely the India management will have both Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in the eleven in T20 cricket, as they may not do well as a combination.
“I don’t think that combination will be ever employed by India. At least in T20 cricket where you have Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav both playing together as two spinners. Either, it’ll be Axar Patel or Chahal or it’ll be Ashwin or Chahal, or if Chahal is unfit, then they might just play Kuldeep Yadav as a gamble in one of the games. I don’t see Chahal and Kuldeep getting reunited, maybe in 50 overs cricket they would,” opined Manjrekar.
Turbulence in Twenty20 games
This week in the T20I series between India and West Indies has seen some turbulence. The start of second T20I at Warner Park in Basseterre was delayed by three hours due to delay in luggage arrival.
Then the USA visas of both teams were made available at the eleventh hour in Guyana, thanks to the intervention by their government, which paved the way for the Florida leg of the series to happen as per schedule at Central Broward Park in Lauderhill on Saturday and Sunday.
India arrive with a 2-1 lead in the five-match series and would be seeking to seal the series with the fourth match on Saturday. For West Indies, they would be aiming to square the series 2-2 and set up Sunday’s match as a winner-takes-it all decider.
Last chance for testing probables
The two matches could be the last time India get try some more contenders for the Men’s T20 World Cup squad in Australia. Suryakumar Yadav gave a glimpse of his stellar stroke play as an opener with an eye-catchy 76 off 44 balls to make a tricky chase look easy.
Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant have chipped in with some contributions as well, though the Indian skipper’s availability will be a concern after retiring hurt in the last match due to back spasm. With the World Cup looming around, the Indian team might not risk Sharma if he isn’t 100 per cent fit. They would also like for Shreyas Iyer to get a big score under his belt.