Former international captains Sourav Ganguly and Michael Clarke have urged Team India to include Ravichandran Ashwin in the playing eleven for their do-or-die clash against South Africa in the final group game on Sunday (June 11).
In the first couple of matches of the tournament, the Men in Blue went in with three frontline pacers and one specialist spinner in the form of Ravindra Jadeja. And while the ploy worked against Pakistan it backfired miserably against Sri Lanka when the island nation chased down 321 by losing only three wickets and with eight balls to spare.
India’s failure to defend the big total has convinced Ganguly that the defending champions should go in with five specialist bowlers in the must-win clash against South Africa. The former India skipper feels the team management should drop all-rounder Hardik Pandya to make room for Ashwin in the playing eleven.
“I think Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja should play. Drop Hardik Pandya, bring back Ashwin. India should play five bowlers against South Africa,” Ganguly told India Today.
It should be remembered that Ashwin had played an integral role when India lifted the Champions Trophy title four years ago in England. Conceding at an economy of a shade over four, Ashwin had claimed wickets in 2013 and had forged a deadly partnership with Jadeja, who was the highest wicket-taker of the tournament with 12 scalps.
Ganguly further heaped praise on India’s batting as well as bowling. The Virat Kohli-led side had scored over 300 in both their games.
“Not only batting, India’s bowling has also looked good except for just one game. Sri Lanka batted exceptionally,” Ganguly said.
Meanwhile, Michael Clarke feels India will start the game against South Africa as favourites. Both the team have won and lost one and need to win the final group game to make it to the semifinals.
“South Africa are No.1 team in the world. Interesting to see how they play under pressure. This Indian team can deliver under pressure. AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli are two great players and different captains. Hard to compare. De Villiers has been a great player for a long time but hasn’t had much success in big tournaments,” Clarke said.