Azhar: Keep Ashwin, Kuldeep in Test XI

The former India captain said Kohli could consider playing three fast bowlers and two spinners in the Test series against England.

Azhar felt if the team decided to go for a 4-1 combination, then Ashwin could be the lone choice given his experience.   -  K.R. DEEPAK

Part of many an English summer during his playing days, former India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin feels Team India should play two spinners - Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav - in the Test series against England as wickets would be dry during this time of the year.

Azhar, who was part of the Indian side that beat England in its own backyard in 1986, said it was India’s best chance to trump England in the five-match Test series starting next week in Birmingham as the Virat Kohli-led side is strong in all departments of the game.

“England will find it very difficult to dislodge India because they don’t have a good bowling attack. We have a very strong side. There are only two (good) bowlers they have - (James) Anderson and (Stuart) Broad, but they are injury prone and in the twilight of their careers,” Azhar said.

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Azhar admitted that the pitch will have a role in deciding the final XI, but the best combination, according to him, would be three fast bowlers and two spinners.

“If it’s a green pitch, then they may go with 4-1, but I think 3-2 will be a better combination if you want to win. Because later the pitches will get dry. It will be hot and the pitches would offer turn especially on the last two days,” he noted.

“The only chance England will have is if they give green tops, but if they give green tops they will also struggle because we also have very good swing bowlers,” Azhar added.

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The former skipper lavished praise on Yadav and said he should be picked on form.

“He is performing so he should be picked and the England side is struggling (against) him. Ashwin and Yadav should play. I don’t think (Ravindra) Jadeja will make the cut,” Azhar said.

However, Azhar felt if the team decided to go for a 4-1 combination, then Ashwin could be the lone choice given his experience.

Earlier, Kohli, during the ODI series, had said that his ‘key weapons’ Yadav and fellow wristspinner Yuzvendra Chahal had made a serious case for Test selection. While Yadav -  part of India's squad for the Afghanistan Test in June - was selected for first three Tests, Chahal was left out.

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Azhar, who led India in 47 Tests, also praised Kohli’s captaincy but said he still has a long way to go.

Asked whether the ‘Yo-Yo’ test is the best method to judge fitness, Azhar said, “It should be conducted before the team is selected, not after.”

Azhar also hailed the current Indian team as the fittest ever.

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