Ravichandran Ashwin failed to make a single appearance in India’s recently concluded tour of the West Indies but Anil Kumble believes that the 32-year-old is still the best available spinner in the country.
Ashwin’s status in the pecking order took a big hit in the Caribbean with Ravindra Jadeja being preferred as the sole spinner for both the Tests against the West Indies. It follows from a difficult 2018 for the off-spinner which saw him miss six of India’s last 13 overseas Tests due to both fitness issues and poor form.
Ashwin was overtaken by Kuldeep Yadav in the pecking order when India toured Australia at the end of last year and his latest snub in West Indies will only add to the uncertainty regarding his place in the Test setup.
However, Kumble believes that Ashwin still has a role to play as India’s lead Test spinner.
“He is still the best spinner that you have,” the former India leg-spin icon told cricketnext in an interview.
“Yes, there have been a few incidents where he has had injuries and not performed to his potential, but Ashwin is your No. 1 spinner in the team.
“He should be a part of the squad, he should be in the playing XI, you have to make a way of getting him in.”
While the Indian team management has recently placed their trust in Jadeja, Kumble feels that Ashwin should still be included in the playing XI in a two-man spin attack.
“I strongly believe that the team certainly can have two spinners in the squad, because both Ashwin and Jadeja are wonderful batsmen,” he said.
“Ashwin has had four Test hundreds, Jadeja has been really consistent with the bat. He did that again in the West Indies, he’s a wonderful bowler too and both of them in tandem can certainly be handful for the opposition.
“So yes, when India travel outside, it’s not always that you get four bowlers to pick up 20 wickets.”
Ashwin will now hope to get back into the thick of things when India host South Africa in a three-match Test series which begins in October.
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