Australian cricket legend Ian Chappell urged the Indian team management to somehow make space for R Ashwin in the playing XI by shifting the middle order around. Ashwin didn’t play a single Test in the recent England series and his exclusion created some debate on social media.
The former Australian captain's contention is that the veteran off-spinner all-rounder has proved himself as a "fine bowler in all conditions" and deserves a place in the team.
"India's best combination includes R Ashwin. He is a fine bowler under all conditions, as he proved in Australia, so India need to find a way to fit him into the XI. Tweaking the Indian middle order to accommodate the skills of Ashwin should be a priority for the selectors,” Ian Chappell wrote in ESPNCricinfo.
Furthermore, Ian Chappell lauded the tremendous depth of the Indian team and called them a formidable unit at the moment. He also added that the thought that they can still improve is scary.
"There's no doubt that India are a very good all-round team. They have conclusively proved it by winning consecutive series in Australia and now having had success in England, albeit COVID-affected, while they are virtually unbeatable at home. It's a scary thought for the other Test sides that Virat Kohli's highly successful team can be improved,” Chappell wrote.
Chappell also mentioned that the presence of Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, and Hardik Pandya in the middle order will strengthen the Indian team.
"In trying to find a balance between the right and left-hand batters in the middle order at The Oval, they may have inadvertently stumbled on the solution – Ravindra Jadeja at No. 5. If Jadeja proves good enough to hold down that spot in the order, the other piece required to complete the puzzle is a seam-bowling allrounder. The ideal player would be a fully fit Hardik Pandya, but they do have a second choice in Shardul Thakur.
A middle-order that reads Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Pandya, and Ashwin should provide the runs expected of that section,” Chappell said.
"With three fast bowlers to follow, the batting is then supported by a versatile attack. That's the advantage of having a strong, well-balanced attack – you don't need huge scores to chase victory,” the former Australia captain added.
Chappell also said that the trio could interchange their places in the batting order as per situation demands and their powerful strokeplay was another strong suit of the three batters.
"The ability to accelerate the scoring rate is essential in Test cricket and those three are an ideal combination to take advantage of a good start to the innings. They are also a perfect fit for situations where the team is either chasing or setting a target,” Chappell concluded.