"It is a must for Ravichandran Ashwin to play at the Oval" - Wasim Jaffer on WTC final
Former Indian cricketer Wasim Jaffer backed senior spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to start against Australia in the World Test Championship final at The Oval.
The veteran off-spinner is India's second highest wicket-taker in Test cricket of all time - 474 wickets at 23.93 - only behind Anil Kumble (619).
Ravichandran Ashwin claimed the most dismissals during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2023 - 25 wickets at 17.28. He also completed more than 100 Test scalps against Australia in that series.
Although Ashwin didn't feature for India when they played their last Test at The Oval against England in September 2021, Wasim Jaffer believes that the 36-year-old is a must pick in the title clash.
Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda ahead of the WTC final, Wasim Jaffer said:
"I have heard that the weather is going to be pleasant for the first three days with the temperature around 26-27. Generally at Oval you try to play some spinners.
"The Australia team has five left-handers if I am not wrong. So I feel it is a must for Ashwin to play here and there is no doubt about it. Usman Khawaja, David Warner and Travis Head are three left-handers who play in the top 3."
Jaffer further mentioned that India should ideally play three seamers and two spin bowlers with the inclusion of both Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
The former batter added:
"I would actually go with three fast bowlers and two spinners. If the ball spins on the fourth or fifth day then Ravindra Jadeja can be a lethal bowler to face even for the left-handers.
"His batting has improved by leaps and bounds… you would want to pick both because Ashwin also bats well. Even though if you want to, you cannot play the fourth seamer."
"Would be tempted to go with Ravichandran Ashwin" - Wasim Jaffer's choice if India plays one spinner
Ravichandran Ashwin was part of India's Test squad for the 2021 tour of England. Although he played in the WTC final against New Zealand in Southampton, the ace spinner was benched for all five Test matches against England.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was preferred over Ashwin given the former's proven ability with the bat.
Jaffer is of the opinion that the Tamil Nadu spinner should be the one to play for India in case the team management decides to field a lone spinner in the final line-up.
"I would be tempted to go with Ashwin just because there are (many) left-handers in the opposition. It is a team dominated by left-handers and if India have to play one (spinner) then it should be Ashwin," said Jaffer.
India and Australia will resume their rivalry in the traditional format on Wednesday, June 7. The two sides will meet at a neutral venue for the very first time.