WTC Final: Sunil Gavaskar wants both Ashwin and Jadeja in India playing XI

Written by Abhishek Patil

India legend Sunil Gavaskar believes that India should play both Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin against New Zealand in the World Test Championship final as Southampton’s “boiling hot” weather is going to ensure that the pitch dries up progressively and assists spinners.

Gavaskar is part of the match’s commentary panel and is currently in Southampton with first-hand knowledge about the pitch and conditions for the match starting June 18.

“In Southampton, it’s been boiling hot over the last few days so the pitch will definitely be dry and help spin as the match progresses, so yes both Ashwin and Jadeja will play,” Gavaskar told PTI in an exclusive interview.

Southampton’s maximum temperature has been over 25 degree celsius for the past few days but there is a forecast of rain from Thursday.

For Gavaskar, it’s not just bowling but all-round abilities that give India the kind of balance they need going into a marquee match like this.

“That (Ashwin and Jadeja together) also gives depth to the batting as well as give a fine balance to the bowling attack. For the series later (vs England) much will depend on the weather and pitch conditions.”

While New Zealand will be on a high after their series win against England, Gavaskar doesn’t feel that the Indian team is under-prepared either just because it didn’t get any practice matches.

“(In) today’s tours there are barely one or two practice games before the Test series begins and the Indian team has had intra-squad matches so they have had that practice.

“The team is a good blend of youth and experience and most of the players have been to England several times so they know the conditions and what to expect,” said the former India captain.

Ashwin is expected to play a significant role with his experience. Gavaskar feels that watching the Tamil Nadu tweaker is as fascinating an experience as it was playing alongside Erapalli Prasanna and also having watched another match-winner Harbhajan Singh in action.

“They are all awesome bowlers. Prasanna is called the wily fox because he had this wonderful ability to trick the batsmen into playing bad shots. Apart from varying degrees of off-spin, he had a deceptive floater where he got batsmen clean bowled or caught at slip with the ball that went straight through.

“Harbhajan has the same clever variations plus he had the doosra which often turned quite sharply from leg to off with little visible change in action. Wonderful bowler.”

“Ashwin has all these plus he has added the flicker or carrom ball and is bold enough to actually bowl a leg spinner to fox the batsman.”

But what separates these champion bowlers from others is their big hearts while facing world-class batters.

“I was privileged to play with Prasanna and I am fortunate to be able to watch Harbhajan and Ashwin win matches for India.”

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Abhishek Patil