Ahead of India’s five-match Test series against England, Dale Steyn has reckoned that off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin could be India’s biggest trump card in England. He also insisted that in a long tour like this, spinners often turn up to be a crucial point of difference for countries.
Less than a week to go for the start of India’s much-awaited Test series against England, the build-up to the event has gone on pretty well. While India would be gutted to have missed the opportunity to field the best XI in the First-class game against the Select County XI, the bowlers still had an opportunity to showcase their worth in the clash, with Mohammed Siraj and Umesh Yadav being the most impressive.
With the first Test set to be played in Edgbaston, conditions that have traditionally favoured the pacers, India are likely to field their best pace unit for the tour. However, that presents the visitors with a conundrum, whether to field Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja together or just one of them. Former South African pacer Dale Steyn, however, reckoned that the off-spinner might be India’s biggest trump card in English conditions.
Steyn also pointed out that countries like England and Australia, where the conditions often have helped the seamers don’t play spin particularly well. The pacer also reckoned that for England, they need to find a spinner who could account for the dangerous Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant in the middle.
"Teams like England and Australia, who are so good at playing seamers and seamer-friendly conditions, don't tend to play spin particularly well. So Ashwin might be the biggest trump card that India have going forward. And the same thing for England - can they find somebody who can spin out Rishabh Pant? So it might be the fight of who the better spinners are in the series," Steyn told ESPNCricinfo.
Given that the series is played in August, where conditions are often dry and humid, there presents a great opportunity for the Indian spinners to exploit, with the ball turning. Steyn insisted that Ashwin’s bowling might be the biggest key for India, given that spin is likely to make a big impact in the series.
"Maybe it's out-of-the-box thinking here from me, but I think we're putting a lot of emphasis on the seamers when someone like R Ashwin might be the biggest key for India. As these five Test matches go on, I think spin will be the difference. Ashwin is the kind of bowler that bowls tons and tons of overs," Steyn concluded.