Ahmedabad: In the lead-up to the 2023 World Cup final in Ahmedabad, there’s a strong case for including R Ashwin in India’s XI against Australia. The confirmation that the pitch will be the same as the one used in the India-Pakistan clash opens up possibilities for the off-spinner.
India’s unchanged lineup since Hardik Pandya’s injury has been consistent for six games. However, the slow conditions of the final might warrant a change. The pitch, having been used only once before, favoured spinners in the India-Pakistan match, with Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja making an impact.
Looking at Ahmedabad’s trend in this World Cup, slower bowlers have been effective, conceding just over 4.8 runs an over. With Mohammed Siraj not in peak form, the idea of playing two fast bowlers becomes a risk, making Ashwin’s inclusion a potential game-changer.
Ashwin’s proficiency against left-handers could be crucial, especially with Australia expected to open with David Warner and Travis Head. Ashwin’s track record against Warner, having dismissed him 17 times across formats, makes him a strategic choice for opening the bowling with Jasprit Bumrah.
Warner’s struggles against Ashwin in T20s and Siraj’s vulnerability in the powerplay create an opportunity for Ashwin to apply pressure up front. Head’s historical struggles against off-spinners further support the case for Ashwin’s inclusion in the powerplay.
Australia’s overall struggles against spin in the tournament, losing 30 wickets to slower bowlers, make Ashwin a valuable asset. Rohit Sharma’s acknowledgement of a potentially slower wicket with a chance of dew emphasizes the need for a spinner.
While there might be a tinge of grass, the inclusion of Ashwin to counter Australia’s dangerous openers could be a calculated risk that a great team should not shy away from. The potential benefits in exploiting the pitch conditions and targeting specific batsmen make Ashwin a compelling choice for the World Cup final.