Ashwin still India's 'No.1 spinner' in Tests, says chief selector Prasad

India's chairman of selectors M.S.K. Prasad also backs K.L. Rahul to come good after undergoing a tough time both on and off the field.

India Test spinner Ashwin has struggled with injuries in recent times.   -  K. Murali Kumar

R. Ashwin may have been unable to last India’s previous two overseas  Test series. Still, chief selector M.S.K. Prasad has stressed that the premier off-spinner continues to be India’s “No. 1 spinner” in red-ball cricket.

“Undoubtedly. There are no two ways about it. Ashwin is our No. 1 spinner and he is one of the best spinners in the world,” Prasad told Sportstar on Wednesday. “In fact, every country we play, they always plan against Ashwin first compared to other spinners. He is our premier spinner.”

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Ashwin, who lost his place in the ODI and T20 sides more than 18 months ago, missed the last Test in England in 2018 due to a groin injury. In the following overseas challenge, Ashwin’s fitness continued to be under the scanner, having suffered a left abdominal strain after the opening Test in Australia in December.

Prasad, though, was confident that Ashwin will make a strong return from the injury layoff.

“If we are talking about Ashwin, we are talking about a legendary spinner. We have to accept that first and the number of victories that he has given to us is phenomenal. I am sure as a professional he knows what’s the fitness level that’s expected of him. Injuries are part and parcel of the game of every player. I don’t exactly question as to what happened (with his fitness in England and Australia),” Prasad said.

“Someone who is exerting is only prone to injuries. Someone who isn’t exerting will not get injured. So, I have no doubt about his commitment. It’s unfortunate but he will come back strong. He has so much cricket left in him and he has so much to offer for Indian cricket.”

Need to back Rahul

Prasad also backed top-order batsman K.L. Rahul, who is going through a tough time both on and off the field. As if his poor run with the willow was not enough, Rahul was suspended and had to return from Australia midway through the ODI series for his derogatory comments on a television show. Prasad was confident that Rahul, who will feature for India A against England Lions in the four-day match in Wayanad from Thursday, will regain his form soon.

KL Rahul will feature for India A against England Lions in a four-day match. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

 

“Everybody goes through those phases. Even the greatest of players have their ups and downs in their careers with regard to their form. We want KL to be among runs and that’s why we have included him against England Lions and BP XI match,” Prasad said.

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“I think when a player who has done extremely well and is out of form, that’s where we need to back him. I am sure KL will get back to form and get back into Indian team as well.

"He is too good a player not to be playing. We know the quality that he has. Unfortunately his form has dipped, there’s no two ways about it. We really want him to make a strong comeback by getting runs in whatever matches he gets. I am sure he will do so."