India will clash with New Zealand in the final of the World Test Championship in Southampton from the 18th of June and former left-arm spinner Maninder Singh has stated that the team management should play both R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja adding that it could be the decision that defines the Test match for the country.
India have a world-class pace quartet of Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav and have traditionally preferred to play just one specialist spinner in overseas conditions in SENA. But the recent resurgence of both Jadeja and Ashwin outside India coupled with their improved contributions with the bat could give the team the ideal balance going into the mega final in Southampton.
Swing bowlers have traditionally dominated proceedings at the Ageas Bowl picking 137 of the 176 wickets to fall in the six Tests at the venue but Maninder Singh feels that Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri should play both their spinners who have been in fine form in SENA since 2018.
“If I was in the team management, I would play both Ashwin and Jadeja. They can be a huge factor. There is going to be wear and tear anywhere as the Test match progresses. I keep talking to my friends there (in England) and they say it has become hot, these summer temperatures will soar. So if it is going to be the way it is then moisture won’t be that much effective. The pitch will dry out and spinners will start getting purchase and both the spinners are of good quality,” added Maninder.
India have played the duo of Ashwin-Jadeja only once together in the same match in England in Manchester in 2014 but Maninder believes that with Jadeja’s rise as a lower-order batsman and the emergence of Rishabh Pant as a match-winner in the middle order, India now has the luxury to play with five specialist bowlers even in SENA - two of whom should be their ace spinners.
“Jadeja’s recent form with the bat has been exceptional. He has worked on his batting a lot. He gives you an extra option of having another bowler. The confidence of scoring runs has rubbed off on his bowling.”
Maninder added that Ashwin had improved dramatically after a stellar performance in Australia in 2020-21.
“Ashwin is a class act. Ashwin has improved a lot and he can now get you wickets on any track, which was not the case when he first started touring overseas. He never used to give you the feeling that he was going for wickets. He didn’t have the belief. But now, with the experience he is a different bowler,” added Maninder.
Maninder further highlighted the role of Kohli and Shastri in encouraging Ashwin and Jadeja to go for the wickets in England rather than play support act to the fast bowlers.
“We’ve seen how Ashwin bowls on Indian pitches. He has got to have that approach. When he bowls his aim should always be to get wickets. I have never had any doubt in my mind that he will give you wickets even on foreign soil. It depends on the team management. On Kohli and Shastri… How they keep motivating him. They’ve got to tell him ‘you are going to get wickets for us.’ Ravi Shastri has been brilliant in managing the players so far. He’ll have to go the extra mile if they want to win this WTC title. At this level cricketers hardly need advice. It’s that slight push. That belief that you are going to get wickets even on foreign soil has to be there,” stated Maninder.