World Cup 2015: Ashwin is right up there with Vettori, says Mushtaq
NAPIER: Mushtaq Ahmed was Imran Khan’s goto man in the 1992 World Cup which Pakistan won. Now, he is in charge of the Pakistani spin attack, trying to make an impact on the hard and bouncy pitches of Australia and New Zealand.
During a chat with TOI on the sidelines of Pakistan’s practice session, Mushy spoke about the spinners in this World Cup, how well MS Dhoni is using R Ashwin and much more. Excerpts:
How crucial has the spinners’ role been in this World Cup?
It has been very important. Spinners are match-winners. There’s bounce in these wickets and you can get people out at crucial stages if you have quality spinners in your side.
Doesn’t the four-fielder rule make it difficult for the spinners to operate?
I think it’s just the opposite. When you have that extra fielder inside the ring, the batsman has to take a chance against a spinner if he is bowling well. There are no easy singles available and that’s where you take the wickets. I think Ashwin is taking more wickets because he has learnt how to bowl within the restrictions.
What are your thoughts on Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja?
Both are bowling well but I am very impressed with Ashwin. And he is being used by skipper Dhoni very effectively. Dhoni’s use of Ashwin reminds me of the way Imran used me in the 1992 World Cup. The moment Ashwin comes in to bowl, there is a slip and a leg-slip it means Dhoni wants Ashwin to take wickets.
Do you think these two spinners can take India far in this World Cup?
Why not? But there’s another side to it. The Indian batsmen are giving them runs on the board, which helps them to take their chances. Mohammad Shami and Mohit Sharma are also taking wickets, so the Indian spinners have a bit of cushion to work with.
Is Ashwin the best spinner of the World Cup so far?
It’s difficult to say right away. But yes, he is right up there with Daniel Vettori. Dan is also doing a great job and lending a lot of variety to the New Zealand spin attack.
Which batsman do you think is the best player of spin in this World Cup?
Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan are good, and so is Kumar Sangakkara. But my vote will go to AB de Villiers. If you have a good plan and bowl to a field, you can probably restrict or get Virat out, but when it’s AB, it gets really tough. It’s difficult to find a spot to bowl at AB. To me, he is the best player of spin in this World Cup.
Why isn’t Pakistan going in with two leg-spinners Shahid Afridi and Yasir Shah?
It would be great if we could, but you need those extra runs from the batsmen to play the additional spinner. We are not getting that. We have to play according to the situation, but yes, if the Pakistani batsmen start getting runs, a time will come in this World Cup when we may want to play two leggies.