Veteran Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh has criticised Ravichandran Ashwin for his lack of fitness in the recently-concluded Border-Gavaskar series where India scripted a historic 2-1 win over Australia. He also added that the spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav, with their incredible show in Sydney in the fourth Test, will eventually pile up pressure on the offie for his spot in the team.
Ashwin was India’s premier spinner heading into series amid comparisons between him and Aussie counterpart Nathan Lyon. He started off well with a six-wicket haul in the opener at Adelaide Oval where India hade won by 31 runs. But an abdominal strain kept him in the sidelines for the remaining three matches of the series. He was in line for a return in the final tie, but failed to recover in time
Ashwin had faced an injury issue in England series as well. It was a similar story for the offie in the summer contest where he picked seven wickets at Edgbaston in the opener, but his form fell subsequently and injury kept him out of the fifth Test at the Oval. In fact, the match in Southampton, where the stage was set for Ashwin to shrug off all his criticism, he failed dismally as against Moeen Ali’s classic.
“The best I have seen R Ashwin bowl was in the first Test in England. After that, he lost his edge. He looked dull in the next Test and then got injured in the series. When he played at Southampton, he got very few wickets while Moeen Ali from the opposition got 9 wickets.
“After that in Australia, he got 3 in the first innings of the first Test and after that had to bowl 52 overs to get the next 3 wickets . So it has to be said that his away record has been shaky and he has struggled,” Harbhajan told India Today.
Harbhajan was all of praise for Kuldeep who picked up a record-hauling five for 99 in the first innings against Australia at SCG. Jadeja also played a crucial role with the bowl at MCG and scored a remarkable fifty in Sydney. “I think this spin pair of Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav would have won India the Sydney test match if it had not rained. Jadeja got wickets in Melbourne, got runs in Sydney. Kuldeep got a five-wicket haul at Sydney. I think we will see more of this spin pair in the time to come,” he said.
After the immense praise, Harbhajan reckoned that the pair has the ability to replace Ashwin in the playing XI. “If your prime spinner only gets wickets at home and is injury-prone away, it will compound the team’s problems and they will have to look at options. So these two have added more pressure on their lead spinner. The lead spinner is needed in tough conditions and if you can’t play in tough conditions, it’s not fair on the team. Questions will be asked because if you knew after the first test, he would take so much more time to be fit again, you could have asked for a replacement,” Harbhajan said.
“The other thing is Hanuma Vihari can also bowl good off spin. He is a good batsman and has contributed with the ball every time he has been given an opportunity. So there will be more pressure on Ashwin if he keeps struggling with injuries,” he added.