Australia batter Usman Khawaja believes India’s star off-spinner
Ravichandran Ashwin is a very experienced bowler and has many clever variations, but he is totally prepared for the Indian spin challenge in the forthcoming four-match Border Gavaskar Test series.
Australia’s four-match Test tour of India begins on Thursday 9 February, with the fourth and final Test scheduled to begin on 9 March.
“Ashwin is a gun. He’s very skilful, he’s got a lot of tricky little variations, he uses the crease quite well too. If you asked me the same question when I was younger, I probably wouldn’t have been able to answer a lot of things because I didn’t really learn about how to face what off-spinners are doing,” Usman Khawaja told the Sydney Morning Herald.
As part of the preparation, the Australian team hired Maheesh Pithiya a 21-year-old spinner who bears an eerie likeness to Ravichandran Ashwin.
Even as Pithiya’s career developed to see him make his first-class debut for Baroda in December, his approach has stayed uncannily similar to Ashwin’s, who will be one of Australia’s biggest bowling threats during the four-Test series, which begins next week in Nagpur.
Spinners like Ashwin, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja have proved to be the most efficacious bowlers in recent Tests in India.
“But it’s one of those really good challenges. The wicket’s going to turn here at some point, whether day one, day three or day four, and he’s going to be in the game and bowl a lot of overs.
So it’s all about figuring out how I’m going to play against him, how I’m going to score runs against him, what he might do. If you bat a long time against him, he’s going to change his game plans against you,” he added.
In the previous series against Australia, Ashwin got Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne into difficulty by tempting them to the leg trap.
“He’s not the kind of guy who’ll do the same thing over and over, he’s going to try to work you out. So I’m looking forward to it. Four Test matches is a long time, so hopefully I can do alright and score runs for my team, but you know what, it’s always fun. Subcontinent, playing against spin is some of the most fun you’ll have in terms of finding a way to get in and score runs, it’s quite rewarding,” Khawaja said.