WTC Final: Can Ravichandran Ashwin spin India to win versus in-form New Zealand?
- WTC Final: Ashwin's record against left-handed batsmen makes him a huge threat against this New Zealand team.
Indian captain Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri might have a few selection headaches, given the problem of plenty that the team has, ahead of the World Test Championship final against New Zealand.
But one man who walks into the playing XI without any questions asked is Ravichandran Ashwin. Probably India's biggest match winner in Test cricket currently, Ashwin's outstanding performances with ball, and bat recently, makes him a certainty for the showpiece event, which starts at Southampton from June 18
Yes, his numbers in SENA countries might put up a pale picture when compared to his numbers in India, but he is not the only bowler to have such a discrepancy. It does not take away from the fact that he is an extremely intelligent bowler, who knows how to out-think batsmen, irrespective of the surface he is bowling on.
One of the biggest advantages Ashwin will have against New Zealand in this crucial encounter is the experience of having troubled most of the top batsmen and the presence of left-handers in the team.
Ashwin's record against left-handed batsmen makes him a huge threat against this New Zealand team. If one considers the playing XI that New Zealand used in the first Test against England at Lord's recently, it could be seen that the team had as many as five left-handers.
It is here that Ashwin could be a potent force for Team India. Ashwin is the most successful bowler in the history of Test cricket against left-handed batsmen, having picked up 207 southpaw scalps in his career, which in fact is 5 more than the number of right-handed batsmen he has dismissed.
Also, his record against left-handed batsmen in the top 3 is outstanding, having picked up 81 wickets at a strike-rate of 52.2. This makes him the biggest weapon against New Zealand's new star, Devon Conway. In fact his opening partner Tom Latham is also left-handed.
The off spinner is expected to be Virat Kohli's go to bowler despite the conditions favouring seam bowling. For Ashwin, who plays just one format for India, winning the World Test Championship is the biggest prize to look forward to and he would be gunning for glory at the Rose Bowl.
In an interview with Sportstar, he revealed that he has enjoyed great success against southpaws as he challenges both sides of the bat. In the history of Test cricket, he is the only bowler to dismiss left-handers more than 200 times. In the upcoming ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final against Kane Williamson's New Zealand, he will be up against the likes Tom Latham, Devon Conway and Henry Nicholls.
“I would like to think that it is because I challenge both sides of the edge. I get a batsman out through the inside edge and the outside and get the slip, short leg and silly point in play. I think that is one of the reasons the left-handers find it difficult. Also, I change the angle; I go over the wicket and to the extremes for around the stumps also. So challenging both sides of the bat gives me the edge," explained Ashwin.