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ICC Champions Trophy: Shaun Pollock thinks India will unleash R Ashwin against SA

Shaun Pollock feels R Ashwin, who has a terrific record against South Africa, would definitely make his first appearance in the ICC Champions Trophy when India take on AB de Villiers’ side at The Oval on Sunday.

icc champions trophy 2017 Updated: Jun 10, 2017 17:01 IST
Champions Trophy 2017,R Ashwin,India vs South Africa
India’s Ravichandran Ashwin is yet to play a game in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017.(NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Former captain Shaun Pollock believes India will play off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin against South Africa to cash-in the latter’s weakness against spin, in what would be a virtual quarter-final of the ongoing Champions Trophy on Sunday.

Ashwin has a terrific record against the Proteas. In the four-Test series in 2015, he claimed 31 wickets at a quite fairy-tale average of 11.12 and thus would still be a daunting figure for the South Africans.

(Read | ICC Champions Trophy: ‘R Ashwin not in playing XI shows India’s bowling depth’)

Pollock believes that the ace off-spinner would definitely be making his first appearance in the tournament at The Oval on Sunday.

Speaking to Sport24, the 43-year-old said India would be hugely tempted to alter their attack after their pacers got a hammering from the Sri Lankan batsmen in a high-scoring clash on Thursday.

(Read | ICC Champions Trophy: Pressure on India in game vs South Africa, says Graeme Smith)

“I was quite surprised at just how well Sri Lanka played. It was a really good surface, and the same one will be used on Sunday,” said Pollock.

“I’m sure India will change their side; I think they will bring Ashwin in to create some variation, especially after the way we played against the (Pakistan) spinners. It would make sense for them to get more spin options in,” he added.

(Read | ICC Champions Trophy 2017: India vs South Africa top five memorable clashes)

It should be noted that the Indian off-spinner, who last played at ODI against England at Kolkata in January, has a remarkably less impressive 50-overs record against the Proteas.

In the six ODIs he has played against South Africa, Ashwin has bagged five wickets at 54.20.

(Read | ICC Champions Trophy 2017: India vs South Africa - IND’s strengths and weaknesses)

The former South Africa medium-pacer further admitted the defeat against Pakistan wasn’t ideal for the AB de Villiers-led side as it has made the India fixture an effective quarter-final instead of it having the potential to be a slightly lower-stress outing for the Proteas.

“Look, at some stage of this tournament you have to face the elimination possibility. So we’re really just facing that (scenario) one game earlier than if we’d got safely into the semis already,” said Pollock.

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“But my thinking is also that we haven’t actually fired properly as yet, which is a good thing. In previous tournaments we have sometimes fired up front and then fallen by the wayside later on. This time, we’re in a situation where if we win three games in a row, we’ve won the trophy.

“So I wouldn’t be too worried; there are also a few guys in our ranks who haven’t performed as well as they would have liked and will be keen to get going (on Sunday),” he added.

First Published: Jun 10, 2017 16:47 IST