Ravichandran Ashwin made a surprise comeback to T20Is in the T20 World Cup in UAE last year but did not get to play all games. The veteran off-spinner has once again entered into the picture for the upcoming T20 World Cup in October this year.
Ashwin has returned to the side for the ongoing West Indies series after missing the home series against South Africa, the Ireland tour, and the England series post the IPL 2022. So far in 3 T20Is in the Caribbean, he has taken as many wickets at an economy of under 7 (6.67).
Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar is optimistic that Ashwin will feature in the playing XI of the World Cup team.
According to Manjrekar, Akshar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav are the off-spinner’s main competitors with Yuzvendra Chahal being a certainty in the starting XI.
“Who are his competitors now? You've got Chahal who's confirmed for spinner on current form. Then you've got Akshar Patel, you've got Jadeja who could do a bit of bowling. Hooda bowled one over in the last game, then you've got Kuldeep Yadav, you've got Ravichandran Ashwin," he said on Sports18's show ‘Sports Over The Top’.
While speaking about Ashwin’s performance in the ongoing Caribbean tour, Manjrekar said, "I think Ashwin’s selection on this tour was an excellent one. In the last couple of years in the Indian T20 league, Ashwin has started making an impact."
The former cricketer-turned-commentator also claimed that Ashwin and Chahal working in tandem is proving very efficient for the Indian team because Chahal’s ability to take some wickets in the middle overs has relieved Ashwin of all the pressure, allowing him to bowl freely.
"I like Ashwin when he's with somebody like Chahal. So, the onus is not on Ashwin to change the tide. You know, the spinner’s job in T20 cricket, in the middle phase is to get wickets like Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj do for South Africa. That's where Ashwin lacked a bit as a T20 spinner. He focused a lot on the economy, but when you have somebody like Chahal, or if there's another wicket-taking wrist spinner, then Ashwin becomes a great compliment because Ashwin has mastered the art of being economical in T20 cricket. In the first T20, a couple of wickets was a great sign, but that's what you'll get with Ashwin, that compliment to the other main wicket-taking spinner in the team,” he added.
The ongoing five-match T20I series against West Indies will be followed by a second-string team flying to Zimbabwe for a three-ODI series and the full-strength team flying to the UAE for the Asia Cup 2022.