Australian batter Matt Renshaw has picked ace India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin as the key Indian bowler and the toughest to face in the upcoming four-Test series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy starting from February 9 in Nagpur.
With Australia’s batting line-up packed with left-handers like David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Travis Head and Alex Carey apart from Renshaw himself, Ashwin will be crucial for India as he became the first bowler to take 200 wickets against left-hand batters in 2021.
“Ashwin is difficult to face. He is a smart bowler with a lot of variations and he uses them very well, but you do get used to him once you’ve faced him for a while,” Renshaw was quoted as saying by AAP.
He added that the Australian batters will have to be wary of the delivery which doesn’t spin from Ashwin and can trap the batters lbw.
“I think the big challenge from Ashwin and any off-spinner in spinning conditions to a left-hander is the lbw threat. Obviously, everyone thinks about the one that turns and gets you caught at slip, but the big one is the lbw when it doesn’t spin. You just have to be ready for that one,”
Renshaw was a member of the Australia Test side who toured India in 2017, losing 2-1 and Ashwin had dismissed him once, in the opening Test at Pune which Australia won by a whopping 333 runs, but not before he had scored 68 in the first innings.
Now most likely to come in at number five if he gets into the playing eleven, Renshaw is confident of performing well in India.
“I think two years batting at No. 5 helped me with facing spin. I know my game a lot better now and I am a lot more comfortable in different situations. We have a strong squad and it is going to be hard to push my way in, but I know that I will be ready if I do get a chance.”
Asked about his preparation for the upcoming tour of India, Renshaw revealed he is getting leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson, as well as Matthew Kuhnemann and Marnus Labuschagne to bowl at him with the SG ball whenever he finds time while playing for Brisbane Heat in the ongoing Big Bash League (BBL).
“The SG ball is a bit different, so we are just trying to prepare as well as we can during this BBL schedule if we get a window to hit red balls. It is a lot different, the conditions in India, so we are trying to replicate them as much as we can.”
“The plan was if (the Heat) got knocked out we’d do some prep with the (Australian) team in Sydney, but we just kept winning and are in the finals now. We have got a good week and a bit in India before the first Test, so there will be plenty of time to prepare there as well.”
India and Australia will play four Tests in Nagpur, New Delhi, Dharamsala and Ahmedabad to decide the winner of the 2023 Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The series is of extreme importance for India, as a spot in the final of the World Test Championship (WTC), to be held in June 2023, is at stake.