Legendary opener Sunil Gavaskar believed that India will go in with both Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin against New Zealand in the World Test Championship final as Southampton’s “boiling hot” weather was going to ensure that the pitch dried up progressively and assisted spinners.
“In Southampton, it’s been boiling hot over the last few days so the pitch will definitely be dry and help spin as the match progresses, so yes both Ashwin and Jadeja will play,” Gavaskar told PTI in an exclusive interview.
For Gavaskar, it’s not just bowling but all-round abilities that give India the kind of balance they need going into a marquee match like this.
“That (Ashwin and Jadeja together) also gives depth to the batting as well as give a fine balance to the bowling attack. For the series later (vs England) much will depend on the weather and pitch conditions.”
While New Zealand will be on a high after their series win against England, Gavaskar doesn’t feel that the Indian team is under-prepared either just because it didn’t get any practice matches.
“(In) today’s tours there are barely one or two practice games before the Test series begins and the Indian team has had intra-squad matches so they have had that practice.
“The team is a good blend of youth and experience and most of the players have been to England several times so they know the conditions and what to expect,” said the former India captain.
Why Kohli stands out from the rest
Over the years in England, save skipper Virat Kohli, who absolutely dominated the English bowling during the 2018 tour, odd hundreds by Ajinkya Rahane, Murali Vijay (both in 2014) or Cheteshwar Pujara (2018) have been indicators that consistent success in conditions conducive to seam and swing is missing.
What was it that made Kohli so special across conditions?
“Virat Kohli hardly ever plays through the line even on flat pitches and he plays late covering any movement off the pitch and that’s why he is successful on all types of surfaces.
“In the recent series against England in India he didn’t get a century but his 60 odd in Chennai was a wonderful exhibition on how to play spin bowling. He was smelling the ball and that’s the hallmark of all great batsmen,” the master batsman said.
Gavaskar was also confident that Rohit Sharma will be able to replicate his 2019 white-ball form in England.
“We saw Rohit Sharma score five incredible hundreds in the World Cup in England two years back.
“The century he got against South Africa was on a tough pitch and cold conditions and he made the adjustments beautifully. Now two years later he is even more experienced so don’t be surprised if he repeats that performance in this series too.”
Gavaskar will be part of the match’s commentary panel and is currently in Southampton with first-hand knowledge about the pitch and conditions for the match starting June 18.