VVS Laxman has lavishly praised Ravichandran Ashwin’s performance at the ‘G, calling it as the best he has seen the off-spinner bowl in overseas conditions. He also extended his praise for the debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj, who he admitted were not overawed by the big stage.
After the stunning collapse in Adelaide, India had a plethora of questions to be answered before the iconic Test at the MCG with Virat Kohli heading back home. While India made four changes to their playing XI, the prospect of two debutants Down Under was always a high-risk move. Luckily for India, every decision Rahane took seemed measured, responsive, and highly successful, including trusting his instincts with Ravichandran Ashwin.
Ashwin, who was used glaringly late in the innings by Virat Kohli was brought on relatively early by Rahane at the ‘G, in the 10th over, a move which paid high dividends for the country. The off-spinner picked up three wickets in the first innings before picking up two more to complete his tally of five wickets in the game. Former Indian batsman VVS Laxman credited Ashwin’s performance, calling it the best he has seen the off-spinner bowl in overseas conditions.
"R Ashwin seems to have the measure of Smith at the moment and backed up his performance in Adelaide with another lovely display of off-spin in Melbourne. It's the best I have seen Ashwin bowl overseas, and that's saying something given the peaks he has scaled," Laxman wrote on his column with TOI.
The Hyderabad batsman also credited the Indian management, headed by Ravi Shastri - for ensuring that the visitors were in the right frame of mind for the MCG Test after the humiliation in Adelaide.
“After the humiliation of being shot out for their lowest Test score in Adelaide, they could have been seized by self-doubt and a crisis in confidence. Credit is due to Ravi Shastri and the support staff for putting 36 all out in the first Test in perspective and ensuring the team was in the right mind-space."
Siraj and Gill on their debut ensured that there were no doubts over their place, as they stomped the mark on the biggest scene. Laxman felt that the two debutants weren’t too overawed by the stage and reiterated India’s bench strength - even without their best batsman playing in the encounter.
"I was heartened by the approach as well as the performances of debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj. They were not overawed by the stage and fitted in perfectly, which shows how well prepared and ready they were to perform at the highest level. It also reiterates India's burgeoning bench strength; even without their best batsman and their most experienced pacer on tour, Mohammed Shami, not to mention the absence of Ishant and Rohit Sharma, India didn't appear seriously handicapped," Laxman wrote.