Former skipper Anil Kumble hailed premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin after he picked up eight wickets in India's 203-run win in the first Test of the ongoing series against South Africa and became the joint-fastest to 350 Test scalps along with Sri Lanka legend Muttiah Muralitharan.
Ashwin's place was debated prior to this Test as he has been struggling with injuries and even when fit, the 33-year-old was left out of the playing XI against West Indies in August.
"You don’t want your premier spinner to be discussed before a Test series or a Test match, thinking about whether he’ll make it to the team," Kumble told Cricketnext.
"I think it’s sad but he’s showed his class. He’s the fastest to 350 Test wickets, it’s something amazing. You know, I think Ashwin, not just as a bowler but as an all-rounder, is an asset to the team."
"Him and Ravindra Jadeja will give you enough armoury with the spin and can also give you solid batting performances consistently, and they’ve done that in the lower-middle order for India," Kumble added.
"So, I don’t see a reason why anyone needs to go beyond these two spinners unless there’s something else that you want to look for, or if one of them is not fully fit."
"If you’re considering a third spinner, then yes, Kuldeep is of course a genuine spinner, and you’d want a wrist spinner to be in your team."
"But having said that, Ashwin is your premier spinner and I’m certainly happy with what he’s done because you can’t stop people from discussing. But, now hopefully he would have shut them up. He’s a class act," added the leg-spin great.
Anil further explained what makes Ashwin such a potent force in subcontinental conditions. "I think it is the subtle variations," he said. "He comes up with and what was really satisfying was that it was a flat wicket and he knew he has to bowl consistently on one side of the pitch and on one side of the wicket."
"The line was consistent, the length was consistent, he kept varying his pace and trajectory and he wasn't experimenting too much."
"I think playing those four or five county matches leading up to this Test match certainly came in handy," Kumble added. "You need those overs under your belt before you come on because in the last few months he hasn't played any cricket for India internationally so he was low on confidence."
"So, it was important that Ashwin got those overs under his belt and those subtle variation coming over the stumps, going around the stumps, angles, he uses them to fantastic effect."
Ashwin will have the opportunity to add to his tally of wickets against the Proteas this series when the second Test begins in Pune on Thursday (October 10).
(Inputs from Cricketnext)