New Delhi: Ricky Ponting has urged India to include both Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin with the former playing primarily as a batter at No. 6 for the ICC World Test Championship Final.
The Indian spin duo emerge as crucial players after they showcased exceptional skills when India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 2-1 series triumph over Australia earlier this year.
The last time India toured England in 2021-22, Jadeja was preferred over Ashwin for all five Tests. The all-rounder had minimal impact with the ball in that series, taking six wickets at an average of 56.16 but he compiled 287 runs which included a ton in the rescheduled fifth Test last year.
It is Jadeja’s talents with the bat, rather than the ball, that former Australia skipper Ponting believes could be critical to his spin partner Ashwin being included in the India XI for the WTC Final.
“I actually think they will pick Jadeja and Ashwin. Jadeja can hold down that No.6 batting spot. His batting has improved that much that they can pick him as a batter that might just bowl a few overs if required,” Ponting said on The ICC Review.
During India’s home series against Australia earlier this year, Ashwin showcased his dominance by claiming an outstanding total of 25 wickets, which not only led the series but also earned him a shared Player of the Series accolade alongside Jadeja.
Although Jadeja and Ashwin flourished on spin-friendly pitches during the series, it is worth noting that Ashwin has demonstrated his ability to excel in diverse conditions, accumulating an impressive tally of 61 wickets in 13 Tests, the third-highest in the current WTC cycle.
“There is no doubt that Ashwin is a more skilled and better Test bowler than what Jadeja is.
“But if Jadeja can hold down that batting spot, and then as the game goes on getting into the fourth and fifth day, if it does start to turn, then you’ve got that really high class second spin bowling option. That’s certainly what I’d be doing,” Ponting said.
Australia are expected to select one specialist spinner for the winner-takes-all WTC Final with stalwart Nathan Lyon all but certain to get the nod.
Lyon matched Jadeja’s 22 wickets in the recent Test series between the two WTC finalists and spun Australia to victory in the third clash with match figures of 11/99.
The 35-year-old off-spinner also leads all-comers across the current WTC cycle with 83 wickets from 19 Tests.
“I judge spin on what Indian subcontinental batsmen normally talk about when they talk about facing spin bowling. Everyone I’ve spoken to from India or Sri Lanka, and those sorts of places, rate Nathan Lyon really highly,” Ponting said.