New Delhi: Pakistan plays Saqlain Mushtaq fails to understand how a proven player like Ravichandran Ashwin has been kept away from India-limited arrangements, saying a successful examiner is bound to succeed in a shorter format.
Ashwin, a regular player in the Indian Premier League (IPL), has been excluded from the shorter format since July 2017. Same with Ravindra Jadeja, but he returned to play all three formats, mainly because of his versatile abilities.
“Classes are permanent, whether you are finger spinners or wrist spinners. Your skills, the ability to read games are very important. I was surprised when Ashwin was sidelined from cricket one day,” Saqlain, inventor of ‘Doosra’, told PTI.
“He knows how to get a batsman out in a five day match, which is far more difficult than a cricket with excessive overs. Anyone can do detention work but someone who knows how to take a wicket can also contain. He knows both of them. How can you keep him out? You have to support your best players. “
Looking for more variety, the selectors have chosen the wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal after the 2017 Champions Trophy. They have both established themselves in overs-limited cricket but have not appeared in eleven together since the 2019 World Cup.
Although Ashwin remains the number one spinner in India at home, he is not a definite beginner in the Overseas Test. He was placed in the Test Two series in the West Indies last year, attracting a lot of attention and recently, playing Test in New Zealand in a two-match series with Jadeja playing another.
“They put aside Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) at the expense of Ashiwn at that time. After Ashwin, you have tried many spinners but none of them have their class.
“Actually, I was surprised when such a great Bhajji was dropped. Both Ashwin and Bhajji had a different style and could easily play together in eleven games. If two right-handed pacers can play regularly, why not spinner?” asked Saqlain.
“That is Bhajji’s class so that he can easily take 700 wicket tests (ending in 413 wickets in 103 tests,” he said referring to Harbhajan, who was in the twilight of his career and only played IPL.
Saqlain was part of a world-class bowling attack but now Pakistan has no offspring spinners. The 43-year-old feels that India, which is far stronger than Pakistan at this time, unlike his era, still has quality spinners despite the departure of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan.
“The spinners you have are actually quite good. Kuldeep is very impressive, Ashwin and Jadeja have done consistently well. They are world class bowlers. The fact is that Pakistan is struggling a bit on that front. Yasir Shah has done well but looks good. Has gone down recently, Shadab is still in the process.
“I am pretty sure that Ashwin and Jadeja will play 100 tests each,” Saqlain said.
Like his former team-mates, Shoaib Akhtar and Shahif Afridi, Saqlain also felt that India and Pakistan should continue their cricket competition.
Akhtar’s proposal for the India-Pakistan series to raise funds for the war against the COVID-19 pandemic in both countries has drawn criticism from big names like Kapil Dev. India does not need the money, Kapil said.
However, Saqlain underestimated financial factors.
“What do you call sportsmen? You call them heroes and what they do? Their job is to do good deeds. Winning and losing is part of the game. Crickets are not war. That is why I feel cricket should be played between two countries.
“To say that Pakistani cricket will suffer from not playing India is an improper way of looking at this. The bigger picture is that the game must be promoted on both sides. And if we play, there is a possibility of improved relations.”
He recalled the experience that made him aware of the power of sports.
“Sachin and Shane Warne held an All Stars match in America (in 2015). You would not believe I saw a flag with the colors of the flags of India and Pakistan. An Indian and Pakistani put them together.
“That brings the two countries closer. I will ask the ICC to also examine this. Financially too, this is a win-win for BCCI and PCB. This series is much bigger than Ashes,” Saqlain signed.
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