The legendary Pakistan spinner, Saqlain Mushtaq couldn’t digest that a proven performer like Ravichandran Ashwin has been kept out of India’s limited-overs set-up. Mushtaq feels that a successful Test bowler can always do well in the shorter formats. Ashwin, a regular in the IPL, has been kept out of the shorter formats since July 2017.
During a chat with PTI, Mushtaq said, “Class is permanent whether you are a finger-spinner or wrist-spinner. I was surprised when Ashwin was sidelined from one-day cricket. He knows how to get the batsman out in the five-day game, which is much tougher than limited-overs cricket. Anyone can do the containment job but someone who knows how to take wickets can contain also. How can you keep him out?”
Though Ashwin remains India’s number one spinner at home, he has failed to do much in overseas conditions. He was kept out of the playing XI in the West Indies last year, drawing a lot of attention and more recently, played a Test in New Zealand in the two-match series with Jadeja playing the other one.
Talking about the same, Saqlain said, “They sidelined Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) at the expense of Ashwin back then. After Ashwin, you have tried many off-spinners but none of them has been of his class. Both Ashwin and Bhajji have different styles and could have easily played together in the playing eleven. If two right-hand pacers can play regularly, why not spinners?”
Mushtaq was part of a world-class bowling attack but their nations now lack some quality in the spin department. He feels that India still possess quality spinners despite the departure of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan. Akhtar’s proposal of an India-Pakistan series to raises funds for the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in the neighboring countries had attracted criticism from big names like Kapil Dev.
However, Mushtaq downplayed the financial factor. He said, “You call sportspersons as heroes and Their job is to do good deeds. To say that Pakistan cricket will suffer because of not playing India is the not right way to look at this. The bigger picture is that the game should be promoted on both sides. And if we do play, there is a possibility of relations improving.”