Shivlal: ‘Ashwin is the most complete bowler now’

“Personally, I rate Ashwin much higher than Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) for he flights the ball more and has a very good loop despite his height whereas the latter was much flatter and faster through the air,” the former India spinner said.

Shivlal Yadav felt Ravindra Jadeja was the most dangerous bowler on the kind of pitches being prepared for Tests in India   -  V.V. Subrahmanyam

Ravichandran Ashwin is a trier and never sits back to let things happen, he creates situations. This is what separates him from the rest of the crowd and makes him the best off-spinner now, believes former India offie N. Shivlal Yadav.

Reflecting on Ashwin’s stupendous success at the highest level, Shivlal, who himself was a classy exponent with 102 wickets from 35 Tests between 1979-87, said the Indian off-spinner is the most complete bowler now.

“It is never easy to bowl on a pitch like the one in the Bengaluru Test against Aussies (where Ashwin picked a six-wicket match-winning haul in the second innings).

“Especially, bowling straighter ones and coming up with such variations requires great craft. He has really mastered this art,” the 60-year-old said.

“Personally, I rate Ashwin much higher than Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) for he flights the ball more and has a very good loop despite his height whereas the latter was much flatter and faster through the air,” the former BCCI president pointed out.

“I feel it is always better to prepare wickets which have slow wear and tear and not spin from day one. This kind of strategy does boomerang on us as the rivals too can seize the chances.” - Shivlal Yadav.

Referring to the criticism that Ashwin has not been as successful abroad as he is in India, Shivlal did not believe it to be so. “He did bowl well in Australia, West Indies. Well, there may not have been so many big hauls. But the fact remains he bowled well but without the same luck. Sometimes you bowl much better but don't get too many wickets,” he said.

“I put it this way. If you remember the likes of Rodney Hogg, Terry Alderman coming to India and struggling here after taking lots of wickets at home and in England. But, their failure in India doesn’t mean they were not great bowlers,” he reasoned out.

Shivlal felt Ravindra Jadeja was the most dangerous bowler on the kind of pitches being prepared for Tests in India. “He brings a huge element of surprise as no one knows whether ball is spinning into the batsman or turning away because of his trajectory.”

“This is the key to his success. He is a perfect foil for Ashwin and this is what makes them such a formidable combination if not the best spin duo we have ever had,” he said.

“Honestly, we never got these kind of tracks during our playing days and they were generally flat except once against Pakistan in the Bengaluru Test in 1987 (Sunil Gavaskar’s last Test which India lost in the face of Tauseef Ahmed and Iqbal Qasim spin bowling). Wish we had these kind of wickets those days,” remarked the former India off-spinner.

“And, the rules too have changed a lot. In those days, if you bowl round the wicket, there was no way of getting an lbw. Now, even on front foot you are getting favourable lbw decisions.”

On Aussie off-spinner Nathan Lyon, the slow bowler of yesteryears said that the Aussie had a nice loop and good control over his line length. "But, he is not the same threat on better wickets as he is on turners," he added.

Shivlal wasn’t surprised with poor performance of the Indian batsmen on a turning wicket. “Indian batting failure on turning tracks is nothing new. Even in the past we succumbed to the guile of John Bracewell, Phil Edmonds, Greg Mathews, Pat Pocock to name a few.

“I feel it is always better to prepare wickets which have slow wear and tear and not spin from day one. This kind of strategy does boomerang on us as the rivals too can seize the chances,” he said.

“That is why winning the toss on these turners is winning half the battle itself. I wish better tracks are prepared in Ranchi and Dharamsala for the next two Tests. And you can never write off Aussies for they are always such a fighting unit,” Shivlal concluded.

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