London: Former Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq on Thursday joined the chorus for the inclusion of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in India’s playing XI against England for the third Test, starting at Southampton on Sunday.
“England have six left-handed batsmen in their XI. Why aren’t they playing Ashwin? Isn’t he an obvious choice if they really want to play five bowlers? I think India should field Ashwin in the third Test.
“It is understandable that they didn’t want to play him at Lord’s. It was such a green-top wicket that you couldn’t differentiate between the pitch and the outfield on Day I. The pitch eventually took some turn on days four and five.
“But nobody will play two spinners on such a track thinking that it will turn later. But why didn’t they play two spinners in the first Test at Nottingham on that flat track?” he said.
Speaking further, Saqlain said: “At Lord’s they could have obviously played only one spinner, and Ravindra Jadeja was Dhoni’s first choice, no doubt. It seems, he prefers Jadeja in the longer format, while Ashwin is the preferred spinner in one-day cricket. Amit Mishra is his preferred option in T20 cricket if you see recent results.
“Different formats have different bowlers, but then you have to consider that India want to play five bowlers,” said Mushtaq.
There have been a lot of talks about English wickets drying up and the two Tests against Sri Lanka prior to this series produced such pitches. It will be a long shot that the green-top wicket seen at Lord’s will be replicated all through the remaining three Tests.
Asked how soon can India play two spinners then, Mushtaq said, “In my county cricket experience, we always played two spinners, irrespective of Day I conditions. Even if seamers ruled on the first two days, the wickets will obviously dry out by the third and fourth day. Whether the opposition has more left-handers or more right-handers, both spinners benefit.