Ravichandran Ashwin could be India’s third spinner during the World Cup considering the general sluggishness of the pitches, and former England cricketer Monty Panesar cautioned the off-spin maestro to use his abundant variations judiciously to make a bigger impact. Ashwin was included in India’s squad in place of injured Axar Patel, and now he might pip pacer Shardul Thakur for a place in the eleven. India will start their campaign in the quadrennial big bash on Sunday against Australia.
“Ashwin is an aggressive bowler. He can change angles, taking the ball away from left-handers and bowling from around the wicket to the right-handers. But hopefully, he will not get too technical with his bowling and over-analyse,” Panesar, a left-arm spinner of repute himself, told PTI.
“He needs to keep his game simple because he’s got so much variation — off-spinner, carrom ball, reverse carrom ball. He’s just got to know when to use them at the right time,” he said.
Panesar, who played 50 Tests and 26 ODIs for England, also has a piece of advice for spinners to make their presence felt in the quadrennial extravaganza.
“You have to be strategic in your lines and lengths. You want the spinners to be bowling to get the batsmen to hit in front of square rather than getting them to play cut or pull. To do that, you’ve got to give the ball flight.
“But I think in India you have to go full rather than short. You also got to go with a bit of a pace on the ball, that’s the first protocol along with being full. It is not like a T20 game where we’ve got only four overs, here you’ve got 60 balls, so look to attack,” he added.
Panesar, who is now plying his trade for World Giants in the Legends League, said Virat Kohli could be in for a wonderful World Cup.
“His presence is going to be absolutely huge for this Indian team. Virat Kohli will be setting the trend when it comes to batting — the intensity, running. He senses a moment on the field. He grabs the whole team and tells — this is the winning moment, and let’s grab it.” Kohli is playing in his fourth World Cup, and Panesar hoped the star batsman would reserve his best for the knockout phase.
“I like to see Kohli peaks at the right time. He peaked too early in last year’s T20 World Cup. I think he peaked too early during the group stages. He played an innings that was worthy of a final against Pakistan (in the group match). This time I hope he saves it for the final or for the semifinal,” said Panesar.
The 41-year-old Panesar also marked Shubman Gill to have a breakout tournament.
The young opener has been in cracking form in ODIs amassing 1230 runs from 20 matches at an average of 72.35 in 2023.
“I think he’s the type a cricketer who finds it easy to simplify his game. You can see it in the way he bats. He has a few trigger movements. And then he just places the ball everywhere because he trusts his hand, his balance and his footwork.
“He’s more of Rohit Sharma than Virat Kohli. But it will all depend on how he responds to the pressure over the next seven weeks or so,” he signed off.
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