Ravichandran Ashwin urges Indian fans to get over the ‘IPL war’. backs Shreyas Iyer for the No 4 slot

Ashwin also praised new chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar for bringing a lot of clarity to the team.

R Ashwin World Cup 2023India’s Ravichandran Ashwin spins the ball during the second day of the second cricket match against West Indies on July 21, 2023. (AP)

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Ravichandran Ashwin pondered who should be India’s No.4 in the 50-over format a day after the Asia Cup squad for the Men in Blue was announced.

“Slot No 4 is one of the most talked about slots. Shreyas Iyer is extremely important for our side. He is one of the best players in the Indian line-up against spin and a very consistent No 4 for India. He has been instrumental in India’s success whenever he has played at No 4. If he is fully fit to play, there is no debate who should be No 4 for India,” Ashwin said on his YouTube channel, Around The World of Cricket .

He went on to add, “Tilak Verma is an exciting talent. Both Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak bring an X-factor to the team as middle-order back-up batters. Tilak has not scored much in the Ireland series. But he shows unreal intent from the first ball. He goes in with a clear mind. Since he brings freshness, management backed him for a backup slot. So does Suria.”

He added that sometimes people make arguments like how many chances should be given to a player like Surya, despite the fact that he has proved time and time again that he is one of the top match-winners in the T20 format. Ashwin linked some of the discussion around players and the chances they should or shouldn’t be given in relation to “IPL warfare”.

“But people should understand that we are talking about the Indian cricket team. In the World Cup, all players are representatives of Team India. The fans must have the acceptance. Once the IPL is over, wipe the slate clean and move on. Fans sometimes engage in wars even after the IPL is over. Surya has that X-factor. The selectors know what they are doing,” Ashwin said.

He added: “Just because your favorite player isn’t there, you shouldn’t underestimate others. The selectors tried to pick a balanced side.”

Ashwin also praised new chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar for bringing a lot of clarity to the team.

“That’s something I found fascinating and it’s really good. Agarkar recently took over as chairman of selectors and immediately emphasized clarity. After picking a 17-man squad and reserve for the Asia Cup, both he and the captain held a press conference. I don’t want to get into whether all teams do that or not,” he said.

Need for “neat” team

While Ashwin said that in the opening slots Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill were definite locks for the XI, Virat Kohli should play at No.3.

There has been some debate about whether Kohli should play at No.3 or No.4 in the series, with some former players like Ravi Shastri saying that the former India captain should be ready to fill the No.4 slot if needed. But Ashwin gave an example of the Australian team and what made them contend to hint at why India were unlikely to juggle around Kohli. “Matthew Hayden said Australia were contenders because they have a settled side. That word he used, ‘settled,’ is significant,” he said.

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Talking about the No 5 slot, he said that KL Rahul was definitely a lock. “Ever since Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni retired, India was desperately looking for a replacement. Rahul has filled this position with expertise.”

The off-spinner also said that the way Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna performed in the Ireland series was encouraging.

“Other than maybe one or two tiny things, they both looked in fantastic pace. The moment they showed their fitness, got bounce and showed their execution, they became automatic selections for the Indian team. In fact, Bumrah made an excellent point that he had practiced bowling 10 overs instead of four overs because his intention was always to prepare for the World Cup,” he said.

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First published on: 23-08-2023 at 01:00 IST

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