Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly feels the absence of left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc in the recently concluded Ranchi Test played a pivotal role in nullifying the effect of off-spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Nathan Lyon.

Both spinners performed brilliantly in the Bengaluru Test, taking eight wickets each but cut a sorry figure in the third match. While Ashwin returned with the match figures of 2/185, Lyon conceded 163 runs for his lone wicket. Their indifferent performance left everyone surprised but Ganguly feels the absence of Starc was a major factor behind it. The former player said both Ashwin and Lyon failed to find the rough outside the off-stump which is often created by left-arm bowlers.

“OFF-SPINNERS DID NOT GET WICKETS HERE. THIS IS BECAUSE MITCHELL STARC WAS NOT THERE, SO THE ROUGH OUTSIDE OFF-STUMP WAS NOT CREATED,” GANGULY TOLD REPORTERS.

Ganguly also praised Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh for their dodgy knocks which helped Australia salvage a draw. At 63/4 and their in-form captain already back in the hut, the visitors were looking well out of the contest. However, Handscomb and Marsh stitched together a brilliant partnership of 124 runs to keep their team’s hopes of winning the series alive.

“THEY (MARSH AND HANDSCOMB) PLAYED REALLY WELL,” GANGULY SAID.

When asked about Ashwin who has looked a pale shadow of his usual self in this series, Ganguly said:“He got wickets in the last match only.”

The fourth and final match of the series will be played from March 25 in Dharamsala.

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