Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga said that India will need the services of a proper spinner like R Ashwin in the upcoming ICC World Cup 2023 and called him a ‘match-winner’.
R Ashwin made his India ODI return after 21 months, as he was named in the Men in Blue squad for the upcoming three-match series against Australia which begins on September 22. He and Washington Sundar were named in the India squad after Akshar Patel suffered an injury during the recent Asia Cup 2023.
It is unclear whether Ashwin will eventually make it to India's World Cup squad as the last date to apply the final tweaks to the squad is September 28. But with Akshar Patel’s inclusion looking uncertain due to injury and India missing an off-spinner in the squad, Ashwin could well have his swan song in ODIs in the World Cup.
Sri Lanka legend Arjuna Ranatunga sure wants to see the off-spinner in the mix for the World Cup and said that Ashwin's inclusion makes all the sense in the world given India is entering the World Cup with just one specialist spinner in Kuldeep Yadav.
"I don't know whether India has two proper spinners. They have good all-rounders, who happen to be spinners but I can't see a proper spinner in this side. On Indian pitches, they need a strong group of spinners. If not, it would be a disadvantage for India.
Of course, there is Kuldeep Yadav, he can be a match-winner as he showed against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup. He is pretty clever from what I see, especially when it comes to using the variations. But you need one more to support him who could contain and attack because teams will try to target him and unsettle him. Especially when you play against England, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand, sometimes you might have to play 3 spinners without affecting the balance of the team. And India doesn’t have a batsman who can bowl. Jadeja who bowls, bats at No 7,” Ranatunga told Indian Express.
Ranatunga believes that Ashwin will cover the loopholes India has in their spin department.
"You take Pakistan and England, they have proper spinners. So that is something I’m sure India will address before the World Cup. They are looking more at the all-rounders like Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, but I personally feel that they should have someone like R Ashwin in the squad, if not in the XI. When he plays, he can be a match-winner for you," added the former Sri Lanka captain.
"He may be slightly older, he might be slightly slow on the field, but you need guys in the sub-continent who can contain and can take wickets. Sides that want to win most of the games, do so by taking wickets and for that, you need to have a balanced all-round attack. If someone like Anil Kumble is on that side then I will tag them as firm favorites, but they have a problem to address with their spinners,” Ranatunga concluded.