India are not blessed with a mystery spinner like Saeed Ajmal, England's Graeme Swann had said recently while playing down the threat of R Ashwin. But Swann's bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed seems to have a better idea of the lanky India offie.
The former Pakistan leg-spin ace, now the England spin bowling coach, is particularly impressed with the Chennai-born player's mental strength. Asked to compare Ashwin and Ajmal, he said both had different variations and the limited-over series between India and Pakistan would decide who is better.
“Ajmal has a great advantage in ODIs as his doosra is very effective. But Ashwin too has his variations. Ajmal has a better record and it's difficult to hit him unlike Ashwin, whom batsmen take on without fear. But I respect both, they are talented. Ajmal's doosra has yet not been cracked but Ashwin is smart and mentally tough,” he added.
Ashwin had hit back at Swann, asserting that one need not be a mystery spinner to take wickets.
Even skipper MS Dhoni feels it is unfair to compare Ajmal and Ashwin. “Ajmal has got a brilliant doosra, he is someone who generates a lot of pace when it comes to the ball that goes away from a right-hand batsman,” said Dhoni. “Ashwin also has the variations. He has got the flipper, googly, bowls leg spin, off-spin, the carrom ball. It’s important we treat him that way.
“Still, the majority of his deliveries are off-spin. So, I think it's important for him to just concentrate on the stock delivery and use the variations as just them. I feel he has done that really well so far. He will only get better with experience.”
The time for statements is over. Ajmal left England reeling at the start of the year. Can Ashwin do that as 2012 winds down?