India vs England, 1st Test: Veteran Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir spoke about the inclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin in the playing XI in place of Hardik Pandya. Gambhir wants India to pick 5 specialist bowlers with two spinners and three pacers.
Much has been talked about Ravichandran Ashwin's place in the Indian Test team, especially considering that Kuldeep Yadav has also been included in the 18-man squad for the first three Tests against England. While both Sourav Ganguly and Gautam Gambhir have spoken highly of the Tamil Nadu-based off-spinner's importance in the team, Gambhir believes Ashwin should be paired up with Kuldeep Yadav in the playing XI, while replacing pace-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
Gambhir, in his pre-series analysis of the series for Cricbuzz, said the sort of weather England is presently experiencing, the wicket is going to get dry which is when Ashwin will play a big role.
Gambhir further said that India would be inclined towards picking two spinners, along with three seamers, with Hardik sitting out. “We keep talking about the weather, it is so hot and it’s been like an Indian summer where the wickets are too dry. I will be tempted to pick two spinners. I would play (Ravichandran) Ashwin at 7 in place of Hardik and play Kuldeep Yadav and then the three seamers,” Gambhir said.
Admitting that Pandya offers a lot both with the bat and ball, Gambhir said that it's Ashwin who will give Team India an edge when the wickets go dry in the second innings and hence could be a game changer.
”Hardik Pandya, yes, he can contribute with the bat, he can contribute with the ball as well but I think Ashwin is someone who’s going to give you that edge once the wickets are dry especially in the second innings. It’s not just about the first innings it’s about the second innings as well in Test cricket,” the southpaw added.
Summing up India's bowling combination, Gambhir picked five bowlers – Ashwin, Kuldeep, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar – the veteran batsman termed it as India's best combination.
“You are literally going with your best five bowlers Ashwin, Kuldeep then you’ve got Shami and Ishant and Bhuvi. This is the best combination going forward. Ashwin is someone who’s got an unbelievable Test record so we got to try and play Ashwin and Kuldeep to start off with,” he concluded.