Often, batting depth separates the better teams from the rest. India have been on a roll in Test cricket during the last couple of seasons and are sitting pretty at the top of the rankings. One of the major reasons behind their rich vein of form is Ravichandran Ashwin. Aside from being the side’s lead spinner, he has regularly played valuable knocks from lower down the order.
Impressed by the off-spinner’s batting ability, former skipper Sourav Ganguly has asked India’s top-order batsmen to follow Ashwin's game during pressure situations. In a candid chat with India Today, the 44-year old lavished praise on the Tamil Nadu all rounder and urged him to carry his remarkable run away from the subcontinent as well.
Ganguly felt, “The top order batsmen should learn from him (Ashwin) how to bat when the team requires. Most of them have done it, the likes of Pujara and Kohli. Rahane is probably having a tough time in the series (against England) but that happens with anyone. He is a quality player. It is a comfortable situation for India when a batsman coming in at number 6 or 7 who is so consistent and who does it every time under pressure. It's a comforting thing for top order as well.”
In reply to England’s first-innings score of 283 in the third Test at Mohali, India suddenly found themselves in a precarious position after losing wickets in a cluster. Suddenly, the tables seemed to be turned on the hosts and Alastair Cook’s team even began to entertain thoughts of a handy lead.
But, Ashwin resurrected India's fortunes with a resolute effort. Following Kohli’s dismissal, he stitched together a vital partnership with fellow spinner Ravindra Jadeja to douse the visitors’ hopes and take his team to a secure position.
Ganguly affirmed, “This was not the first time. Ashwin has done that (on) number of times and he keeps doing it. He has got such good technique and such good footwork on the crease. His batting looks so easy (on the eye). He has been remarkable with the bat since the tour of West Indies (in July-August). He has just got better and better. The best part of batting is that every time India need him, he stands up and delivers. It has been a remarkable performance from Ashwin.”
However, the stylish southpaw went on to remind the world’s top-ranked all rounder and bowler that performing outside of his comfort zone will go a long way in cementing his legacy.
He insisted, “The biggest challenge for Ashwin will be to have the effectiveness with his bowling when he travels abroad. His past record (outside Asia) has not shown that. The amount of wickets he has got in India is a lot more than away from the subcontinent. He has become a lot more experienced since he last traveled to Australia or England (in 2014/15).”
Ganguly added, “He seems very happy to play under Kohli's leadership. From that point of view, he knows he is India's go-to man, most valuable player. That is a huge confidence boost for any player.”
With this series against England still looking far from being over and another home series against Australia in the offing, the team management would want Ashwin to continue his impressive form in both departments before they start planning for their next set of overseas tours.