Former India batsman turned commentator Sanjay Manjrekar said the time has come for R Ashwin to come up with a match-winning spell in overseas conditions, adding he hasn’t yet bowled a ‘long and impactful’ spell abroad (SENA). Including his wicket in the ongoing ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand, the offspinner Ashwin has 410 scalps from 79 games with as many as 30 five wicket hauls.
Manjrekar, who had earlier said he doesn’t consider Ashwin an all-time great because he is yet to get a five-wicket haul in South Africa, England, New Zealand or Australia, stuck to his opinion. While Ashwin did not have a great start in SENA, his numbers have completely transformed since South Africa, 2018 - he has bagged 39 wickets in 11 Tests (20 innings) at an average of 29.97 and strike rate of 71.7 during this period in SENA.
“He is surely a high-class bowler but I will again tell everyone that he’s a brilliant match-winner on turning pitches in India. But overseas, this is his third tour to England – he’s been to Australia three times and twice to South Africa – and here he hasn’t shown a long impactful spell yet to win the game for India. The time has come for Ashwin to do just that," Manjrekar told ESPNcricinfo.
Ashwin is in the middle of a fine spell in Southampton, having picked up the wicket of Tom Latham on Day 3. Ashwin also played a crucial part in India’s 2-1 series win in Australia recently, picking up key wickets including Steve Smith’s thrice.
“Today’s wicket was absolutely brilliant because he had no help from the wicket and he got the dismissal in a new way. In India, he picks up wickets with the help of short-leg and silly-point. Today, he picked up the wicket like an old-timer, like how Prasanna and Bishan Singh Bedi used to do by luring the batsmen into driving to the covers, mid-off or mid-on. Pitch didn’t have anything for him but despite that, he picked the wicket using a good strategy, tactic and skills," Manjrekar said.
Earlier, Manjrekar had explained why he feels Ashwin does not fall under the all-time great bracket.
“Ravichandran Ashwin, with due respect to him, I think he’s a great guy at what he does, but when people start talking about him as one of the all-time greats, I have a few problems with that.
“One basic problem that I have with Ashwin is that when you look at SENA, the countries for batsmen and bowlers, places where Indians find themselves outside their comfort zone – it’s amazing that he doesn’t have a single five-wicket haul. Not one five-wicket haul in all these countries."