Spin dominates during second innings at The Oval, India must include R Ashwin: Zaheer Khan

Former India pace bowler Zaheer Khan has suggested two changes for the fourth Test against England at The Oval, which will begin on September 2. India skipper Virat Kohli had said at the post-match conference that the bowler’s workload will be managed, which potentially means that there might be few changes in the bowling personnel.

Zaheer feels that India should play Ravi Ashwin in the fourth Test, irrespective of whether Ravindra Jadeja is available or not. The all-rounder injured his knee while fielding in the Leeds Test and it seems highly unlikely that he will play at The Oval. Ashwin has so far not played in the three Tests, but Zaheer believes that the experienced player will have a huge impact at The Oval pitch as that will be more to his liking.

“The opportunity is there for the taking and, I believe this change (bringing in Ravichandran Ashwin) should be made. You should first see how fit Ravindra Jadeja is… but even if he’s playing, India should go for this change because if you look at the history of The Oval, spin definitely dominates in the second innings,” Zaheer told Cricbuzz.

The cricketer-turned-expert further opined India should take a cue from the World Test Championship final (WTC) and play their best five bowlers. In that marquee clash, both Jadeja and Ashwin had played with the latter picking up five wickets against New Zealand.

“In the WTC final, the way Team India approached the game – going with Jadeja and Ashwin both because they are among the best five bowlers – they should go back to that because spin will have a huge impact at this ground.”

Zaheer also feels that Ishant Sharma might be dropped from the fourth Test owing to lackluster performance. “You’ll have to see which bowler didn’t look in rhythm in the last game and also how you started the series. From that perspective, I believe you might not see Ishant Sharma play in this match.”

India might play Shardul Thakur to bolster their lower order: Zaheer Khan

The former India fast bowler also feels that the team might give Mohammed Siraj a rest and include Shardul Thakur instead, owing to his ability to a handy lower-order batter.

“If you are looking for more contributions with the bat, you can also think about Siraj – both from a workload-management perspective and for strengthening the batting. Shardul is such a player who can be used as a bowling all-rounder… and will provide that extra cushion in batting.”

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