Monty Panesar believes that the outcome of the upcoming India-England Test series will be determined by how the visitors play Ravichandran Ashwin.
Ashwin, who played a critical role in India’s recent 2-1 series triumph in Australia, was also his country’s highest wicket-taker against England in the 2016-17 home series.
The off-spinner is expected to be one of Team India’s most important players in the four-match Test series against England.
Speaking to the Times of India, former England spinner Panesar said:
“Ashwin had a great tour of Australia and will come into the series with tons of confidence. How England play Ashwin will decide the outcome of the series. Ashwin has become smarter with the way he has bowled in recent times and is in prime form.”
Monty Panesar was a part of the England side which won the Test series in India in 2012-13. The left-arm spinner claimed 17 wickets in the series at an average of 26.82.
Monty Panesar feels Ravindra Jadeja’s absence could be a big setback for the hosts as Ravichandran Ashwin will need support from the other end to maintain pressure. Jadeja is likely to miss the majority, if not all, of England’s India tour after fracturing his thumb in the third Test against Australia.
“Jadeja will be missed. The second spinner will be crucial for India as Ashwin will need support from the other end to put England under pressure. They have named Axar Patel in the squad but I do believe that Jadeja adds a different dimension to the Indian team,” added Monty Panesar.
Monty Panesar went on to advice the England bowlers against putting undue pressure on themselves while coming up against India’s world-class batting line-up.
“In India, bowlers need to have an in-and-out field. You should have fielders at close-in positions as well as in the deep. You have to keep mixing things up and cut down the scoring opportunities for the Indian batsmen which will make them take risks. That’s where England bowlers have a chance,” the 38-year-old added.
India haven’t lost a home Test series since England’s tour in 2012-13, and it remains to be seen if the visitors can repeat the feat.
TEAM – Virat Kohli (Capt), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya (VC), KL Rahul, Hardik, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Md. Siraj, Shardul Thakur
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 19, 2021