'It gives depth to batting': Sunil Gavaskar picks India's combination for WTC final, bats for both Ashwin and Jadeja
Three seamers and two spinners with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja? Four seamers because it’s England? Or an extra batsman in Hanuma Vihari? Questions are plenty as far as India’s team combination is concerned for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand starting on June 18 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. For legendary India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar, it is not that difficult a choice.
Gavaskar said India should play both Ashwin and Jadeja in the WTC final as it not only strengthens the bowling attack but also ‘gives depth’ to their batting.
"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," Gavaskar told PTI a day after both India and New Zealand named their 15-member squads for the summit clash.
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."
Over the years in England, save skipper Virat Kohli, who absolutely dominated the English bowling during the 2018 tour, odd hundreds by Ajinkya Rahane, Murali Vijay (both in 2014) or Cheteshwar Pujara (2018) have been indicators that consistent success in conditions conducive to seam and swing is missing.
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.
(With PTI inputs)