Former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori believes veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin should be on the flight to Australia for the T20 World Cup later this year. The 35-year-old was one of the most reliable players for the Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the IPL 2022 season.
Ashwin picked up 12 wickets in the tournament at an economy rate of just 7.51. Vettori feels the off-spinner showed great variations and would be more than handy on Australian pitches.
Speaking to ESPNCricinfo, Vettori explained why he would pick Ravichandran Ashwin as the off-spinner over someone like a Washington Sundar. He said:
"I think Ashwin, his variations have done the job. Washington is an execution bowler and bowls his yorkers. But what Ashwin does now is he has that ability to bowl carrom ball, leg-spin, off-spin. I think you need to have that ability to mix it up as much as you can in Australia."
Shardul Thakur has also made some crucial contributions with both the bat and the ball across formats for India. But Vettori feels someone like Ravindra Jadeja or Deepak Chahar is ahead of him in the pecking order. On this, he said:
"(On whether Shardul Thakur should be included). I think Jadeja covers up for that all-rounder spot at No. 7. Even Deepak Chahar to a limited degree, as his batting has improved so they can develop him. I think it will be too hard to leave someone out to bring him (Thakur) back in."
If Washington Sundar is fully fit, he might get the nod ahead of Ravichandran Ashwin: Ravi Shastri
Meanwhile, former India head coach Ravi Shastri is a huge fan of Sundar. He believes the Tamil Nadu all-rounder has all the qualities to be a regular for India. However, injuries have hampered his progress and Shastri feels perhaps that is the only reason why Ravichandran Ashwin might pip him. He told ESPNCricinfo:
"I think if Sundar is fully fit, he might get the nod ahead of Ashwin because he has the ability to bowl in the powerplay, he can also bat down the order, and also because of his T20 record. But he needs to play a lot because he has an issue with his webbing as he splits it often. If that happens, then Ashwin gets the nod because of his experience."
The five-match T20I series against South Africa, starting June 9, might be a great opportunity for many fringe players and youngsters to make it to India's T20 World Cup squad.