Mumbai, Jan 5 (IANS) India’s limited-overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni heaped praise on star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Tuesday, terming him as an asset for the side on whom he always relies on. Ashwin finished 2015 as the top-ranked Test bowler. Ashwin achieved the top spot for the first time in his career after injury prevented South African pacer Dale Steyn from bowling more than 3.5 overs in England’s second innings in the Durban Test. 

The Chennai-born spinner finished 2015 as the most successful bowler with 62 wickets in nine Tests, including seven five-wicket hauls and best figures of 7/66. This was reflected in his ranking after he started the year in 15th and slowly but surely moved to the top. 

“Ashwin is a very different bowler. He thinks always while he is bowling. He is very positive on the field. I have always told him to focus on his bowling and not anything else. He has been an asset for the Indian team for long. I rely on him always be it in the start or a the death overs. Ashwin makes my work easy when fast bowlers are not performing well,” Dhoni said at a press conference before leaving for Australia on Tuesday. The 34-year-old also praised all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel for getting runs and wickets under their belt in the domestic circuit before the all-important Australia tour. Youngsters Gurkeerat Singh, Rishi Dhawan, Varinder Sran and Manish Pandey were included in the ODI squad while Hardik Pandya was included in the T20 squad. 

“Jadeja is bowling really well. Axar has done well in the domestic season both with ball and bat. Both Jadeja and Axar have a great competition between themselves to get a place in the team. At this point of time, most of the countries have good all-rounders. Fast bowling all-rounder we are lacking. “No. 6 and No. 7 are the most tricky and difficult places right now in the team. It is not easy for people to be successful in that position. I thought Suresh Raina would have been good at those places,” he said. 

Speaking on his break from international cricket and his experience of playing at the domestic level after a long time, Dhoni said, “As I am not playing Test cricket right now, it has given me a lot of time to look at my fitness and get back to shape. I think this break from international cricket has helped me. It has helped me to plan better and come back into the team.”

    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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