Former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga knows a thing or two about winning a World Cup in the subcontinent, having taken his side to victory in 1996, and he believes India lacks a ‘proper’ spinner ahead of the 2023 edition and would do well to include Ravichandran Ashwin in the squad.
“India has good all-round spinners, but I can’t see a proper spinner in this side. Pakistan and England have proper spinners. India has [Ravindra] Jadeja and Axar [Patel]. I feel they should have Ashwin in the squad. He can be a match-winner for you. He may be slightly older and slower, but you need guys in the subcontinent who can contain and take wickets,” he said during an interaction with select media on Friday.
Ashwin and Washington Sundar were left out of India’s World Cup squad, announced earlier this month, sparking a debate about the lack of an off-spinner in the team.
Ranatunga, however, rates Kuldeep Yadav highly and said that the left-arm wrist-spinner will be a vital cog in India’s World Cup campaign.
“Kuldeep is a match-winning bowler. He is the only wicket-taking bowler I can see; he showed that in the last two games [of the Asia Cup]. You need someone like him. He will be the controlling factor for India,” the 59-year-old said.
The former skipper, who had world-class batters like Sanath Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva contributing to his team even with the ball, also pointed out that the lack of batters who can bowl in this Indian line-up was concerning.
“Nobody in the Indian top-order bowls. That can be a big disadvantage. [Ravindra] Jadeja, you can’t consider him as a top batsman or a top bowler. For me, an all-rounder in the subcontinent should be a batsman who can bowl or a bowler who can bat. That is something missing for India,” he explained.
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The India team management has tried to tide over that issue by including Shardul Thakur and Axar Patel in the squad, who can add handy runs with the bat in the lower order.
Ranatunga heaped praise on the Indian pace unit and said that the fact that India could afford to bench someone like Mohammed Shami was a testimony to the quality of its attack.
While rating India as one of the favourites to lift the World Cup, Ranatunga cautioned that the support of the home crowd will be a double-edged sword.
“India will have a huge advantage and disadvantage playing in front of the home crowd, which will put a lot of pressure on the team,” he remarked.
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