With Ravichandran Ashwin growing in stature in the batting department as well, iconic opener Sunil Gavaskar has come up with a left-field proposal. At a time when India are not getting adequate output from their top-order, the 67-year-old believes that the Tamil Nadu all-rounder can be used as an opening batsman too.
Speaking to NDTV, the Mumbaikar lauded Ashwin for playing an integral role in Ravindra Jadeja’s progress as a viable lower-order batsman and also sounded optimistic about Jayant Yadav’s future at the international level.
Gavaskar claimed, “He (Ashwin) is making a case of opening the batting for India. The way he has been batting in the last six to eight months, I must say that India has got a reliable all-rounder and that is a huge plus.”
Currently the top-ranked all-rounder in Tests, Ashwin made history by recently becoming only the second spinner in the game’s illustrious history to score 500 runs and pick 50 wickets in a calendar year. More importantly, his handy knocks from lower down the order have regularly bailed India out of tough situations.
For this year, Ashwin’s batting average of 45.41 is higher than both Murali Vijay and KL Rahul who are India’s first-choice openers. As the duo have also suffered from injuries during the season, the constant shuffle at the top of the order has prevented the team from getting off to strong starts.
In the ongoing third Test against England at Mohali, Ashwin managed to help India overcome a mini-crisis at 156/5 and eventually take a vital 134-run first-innings lead. Alongside him were fellow spin all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav who also contributed fifty-plus scores each. Incidentally, this was the first time that three Indian batsmen scored half-centuries from number seven or below in a Test innings.
Gavaskar felt, “Ashwin has one of the finest cricketing brains in the game. Under his guidance, Ravindra Jadeja also showed exemplary patience and went on to score big. As far as Jayant is concerned, he looks a fine player to me. He got the opportunity and grabbed it with both the hands.”
“He looks as if he belongs there. He has been playing domestic cricket for 4-5 years and came into the Indian side by performing well there. You have got to start doing well in the domestic cricket first to expect the India call,” he added.
Earlier, another former skipper had asked India’s top-order batsmen to learn from Ashwin. Now, Gavaskar has suggested an even more drastic measure by alluding to the possibility of using the off-spinner as an opener.