Harbhajan Singh has come down heavily on off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin after India’s 60-run defeat against England in the fourth at The Ageas Bowl, Southampton. By virtue of this defeat, the visitors also conceded an unassailable 3-1 lead to England in the five-match Test series.
Playing his first match in the series, Moeen took nine wickets in the match. While the English off-spinner had bamboozled the Indian batting line-up by claiming 5 for 63 in the first innings, he scalped 4 for 71 in the second essay, including the pivotal one of Kohli.
On the other hand, Ashwin managed to claim only three wickets in the match. When the conditions were suitable for spin bowling in England’s second innings, Ashwin returned with match figures of 84/1.
"There was so much help available on this wicket for the off-spinners. Just landing the ball at that particular rough patch would have fetched a lot of wickets. That is exactly what Moeen Ali did and got so many wickets," Harbhajan quoted as saying by India Today.
"India lost the match where Moeen Ali bowled better than R Ashwin. For the first time, I saw England spinners bowling better than our spinners. Him (Ashwin) not being able to take wickets is the reason why we are 1-3 behind in the series,” he added.
Harbhajan, who is covering the Test series as a commentator for Sky Sports, also asserted that Ashwin failed to "take wickets when it mattered the most".
"Ashwin is a great bowler and has achieved so much for India. But he failed to take wickets when it mattered the most, that is on Day 3. Had he taken just two or three wickets, not even a five-wicket haul, then India would have been chasing a target of 160-170 runs for victory which was very much achievable," he stated.
Ashwin had picked up a groin injury during the Nottingham Test. The Indian team management, however, said before the fourth Test that Ashwin had regained his full fitness.
Harbhajan though believes that Ashwin should have done better if he was fully fit.
"I really don't know how serious was Ashwin's injury. If it was serious then the team management should have known it. And if he was really fit then he failed to bowl like it was expected of him," Harbhajan said.
"Moeen Ali was making a comeback in the England team and won the man-of-the-match award. He is a very good bowler though does not rate himself so highly. He will always bowl better than the rest as his trajectory is very good. Indian team has not been able to find any solution to his bowling since 2014 when he performed exceptionally well against us at the same venue," he concluded.