Ever since India’s Test captain Virat Kohli advocated fielding five bowlers in the playing XI, the No.6 batting slot became a point of debate: Did the team need a full-time batsman or a bowling all-rounder for the slot?
Ravichandran Ashwin’s two centuries in the West Indies gradually put a lid on the simmering debate. And now with scores of 32, 70, 7, 58 and 72 in the ongoing series, Ashwin has made the position his own.
The Tamil Nadu player has surprised some with his skills with the bat, but one man always saw it coming – Ashwin’s childhood coach Sunil Subramaniam. He had told his ward almost three years ago, that he could be opening the innings for India in Test cricket. Like a true student, Ashwin didn’t laugh it off and instead got down to working harder in the nets.
“I was the first one to tell him that his batting style has certain similarities with VVS Laxman, with whom I have played at the domestic level. I see him doing this for India on a regular basis,” Subramaniam told TOI.
“Ashwin spends a lot of time batting in the nets. He is mentally strong and a good batting spell does not affect his bowling. I won’t be surprised if he continues to bat like this and even opens the innings for India,” Subramaniam added.
In a way, Ashwin is a modern day Ravi Shastri and, perhaps, could reach greater heights in terms of achievement. It was Shastri who had told former BCCI boss N Srinivasan that the Chennai off-spinner could be slotted as an all-rounder after the offie scored 91 against England at the Eden Gardens in 2012.
Former Indian captain Dilip Vengsarkar said, “I don’t have any doubt that Ashwin’s batting slot is No.6 at home. The team would certainly continue with him if he is able to show the same kind of form outside India.”
For mer India player Pravin Amre said, “He has been scoring runs when it matters the most. I am sure with runs behind him, he is only going to get better. I would be happy to see Ashwin become India’s mainstay at No. 6, home and away .”