London: For followers of Indian cricket, to think of the ‘Men in Blue’ without Ravichandran Ashwin being part of the set-up would be impossible. One look at the number of one-day internationals played by Ashwin since the ICC World Cup in Australia in 2015 though tells a different story.
With Virat Kohli favouring the seam bowling all-round option of Hardik Pandya and the emergence of Kedar Jadhav as a handy part-time off-spinner, Ashwin has been warming the bench in the Champions Trophy so far, something which he hasn’t complained about according to the Indian captain.
“He is very professional about these things. We have clash of opinions about bowling plans and all because he is a smart and thinking cricketer, but when it comes to team selection, he supports my decisions,” Kohli had said before the match against Sri Lanka.
All eyes thus were fixed on Ashwin as he practiced on the eve of the big clash. There were clear signs that the off-spinner was bowling with a lot of purpose. He bowled his new weapon, the leg spinner, with great control and even foxed Dhoni and Kohli with it in the nets.
TEAMS: India Squad: V Kohli, R Ashwin, JJ Bumrah, S Dhawan, MS Dhoni (wk), RA Jadeja, KM Jadhav, KD Karthik, B Kumar, Mohammed Shami, HH Pandya, AM Rahane, RG Sharma, UT Yadav, Yuvraj Singh
South Africa Squad: AB de Villiers, HM Amla, F Behardien, Q de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, F du Plessis, Imran Tahir, KA Maharaj, DA Miller, M Morkel, CH Morris, WD Parnell, AL Phehlukwayo, D Pretorius, K Rabada