India should consider R Ashwin for 2019 World Cup, says Gautam Gambhir
Amidst all the hype surrounding wrist-spinners, the resilient southpaw has backed the senior off-spinner to reclaim his white-ball mojo on seemingly dry pitches expected during the World Cup which runs until July.
The 37-year-old pointed to Nathan Lyon's recent performances in the Test series against India and rejected the notion of wrist-spinners being more effective than finger-spinners.
Addressing the media during a promotional event at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium for Funngage, Gambhir affirmed, "Both wrist-spinners (Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal) have done well in the last one year. But I still feel that R Ashwin is somebody we should look at. Obviously, a quality off-spinner is a quality off-spinner. I’ve always believed that a quality spinner is a quality spinner – irrespective of whether he is a wrist-spinner or a finger-spinner."
The former India captain added, "Look at what Nathan Lyon has done in the Test series (against India). He’s probably the best off-spinner in the world and he’s a finger-spinner. I feel that we should not differentiate because there’s a wrist-spinner and so there’s no space for a finger-spinner. I think R Ashwin is someone who we should always consider because we are looking at conditions in England during that time of the year. Wickets could be flat and worn out. So a finger-spinner can be effective with the ball as well."
Following a spate of lean returns from after the 2015 World Cup till the 2017 Champions Trophy, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja lost their places in India's white-ball teams as the selectors shifted their attention towards the wrist-spin of Kuldeep and Chahal.
While Jadeja has relied on his handy batting skills to make a comeback into the ODI lineup, Ashwin has not been able to reclaim his spot in the team. His last appearance for India in the 50-over and 20-over formats came during their tour of West Indies in June-July 2017.
Disappointed at white-ball specialists skipping first-class cricket: Gambhir
When asked about Shikhar Dhawan's below-par returns in recent times, Gambhir opined that white-ball specialists should have played first-class cricket before touring Australia.
Following the conclusion of the 3-match T20I series in November, Dhawan had a break of more than 45 days before the ODI series began in Sydney. However, he chose to spend the time away from the game instead of returning to India and working on his batting for Delhi in the first-class circuit.
While backing Dhawan to return to form during the New Zealand series, Gambhir insisted that white-ball specialists like MS Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu should have played first-class cricket due to the looming presence of the upcoming edition of the World Cup.
Gambhir felt, “For me, everyone needs to score runs. When you are playing for the country, you’ve got to be scoring runs. The good thing is the World Cup is very close by and I don’t think we can make a lot of changes. Runs are the only way you can regain your confidence and I am sure Shikhar Dhawan is thinking about it. He’s done enough and there’s an important series starting from tomorrow. So, hopefully, he can do really well in this series (against New Zealand)."
He added, "I’m a little disappointed because some of the guys should have played first-class cricket. Being away from Test cricket should have actually pushed them to play first-class cricket. Whoever was selected to play (only) white-ball cricket, because it’s a World Cup year, I think it should have pushed all these guys like MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan and Ambati Rayudu – all those who went to Australia - to play first-class cricket."