Ashwin got the better of Ben Stokes in both innings of the second Test in Chennai. The ace Indian off-spinner has now dismissed the southpaw ten times in the nineteen innings he has bowled to him.
While talking about the battle between Ben Stokes and Ashwin during a discussion on Star Sports, Gautam Gambhir observed that the wily spinner seems to have the wood on the big-hitting all-rounder.
"You create battles. The form Ravichandran Ashwin is in and when he is playing in his home conditions, he will target the top two players of the opposition. So the battles between Joe Root and Ashwin or Ben Stokes and Ashwin are very important for this series. The way Ravichandran Ashwin has dominated this battle shows Ben Stokes does not have any plan to tackle him," said Gambhir.
The former Indian opener reckons Ben Stokes cannot counter Ashwin's threat by playing the ultra-defensive game.
"Stokes had batted well in the first innings of the first Test match because there was not much help. But if the wickets are like this, I feel it is difficult for Ben Stokes to survive for long if he goes into the survival mode," pointed out Gambhir.
"Ben Stokes needs to look to score runs" - Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir highlighted that Ben Stokes was not dismissed by unplayable deliveries in both innings of the Chennai Test, and brought about his own downfall by being overly defensive.
"Ben Stokes has been in the survival mode in this entire Test match, not only today. If you see the first innings as well, it was not a delivery to get out to. If you try to defend a ball that is pitched right up, which is a ball to be hit, you are giving a greater opportunity for the ball to dismiss you. It was a straight ball today to which he got an inside," said Gambhir.
The cricketer-turned-commentator concluded by saying that attacking players like Ben Stokes and Rishabh Pant need to play their natural game for them to survive in the middle.
"You cannot go into the survival mode when you are a naturally aggressive player. I don't want to compare Rishabh Pant with Ben Stokes as Stokes is way ahead at the moment, but if you ask a player like Pant to go into the survival mode, he will not be able to survive for long. Ben Stokes is a similar kind of batsman. He needs to look to score runs whenever he gets an opportunity. If you play like this against Ashwin even on a flat wicket, he will dismiss you there as well," signed off Gambhir.
Ravichandran Ashwin has dismissed Stokes 10 times in Test cricket. David Warner is the only other batsman he has dismissed on ten occasions in the longest format of the game.
The Indian team will hope that their premier spinner maintains his stranglehold on Stokes for the remaining two Test matches of the series and doesn't let him get the big runs.