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Ravichandran Ashwin urges Indian fans to move past ‘IPL warfare’; backs Shreyas Iyer for No 4 slot

Ravichandran Ashwin weighed in on who should be India’s No 4 batter in the 50-over format a day after the Asia Cup squad for the Men in Blue was announced.

“The No 4 slot is one of the most debated slots. Shreyas Iyer is extremely important to our side. He’s one of the best players in the Indian line-up against spin and a very consistent No 4 for India. He’s played a crucial role in India’s success whenever he’s played at No 4. If he’s completely fit to play, there’s no debate who should be No 4 for India,” said Ashwin on his YouTube channel, Around The World of Cricket.

He went on to add: “Tilak Verma is an exciting talent. Both Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak bring an X-factor to the team as back-up middle-order batters. Tilak hasn’t scored a lot in the Ireland series. But he’s showing unreal intent from the first ball. He’s coming in with a clear mind. Since he brings in freshness, the management has backed him for a back-up slot. Same with Surya.”

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He added that sometimes people dredge up arguments like how many chances should a player like Surya be given, despite the fact that he’s proven numerous times that he’s one of our top match-winners in the T20 format.

Ashwin pegged some of the debate around players and the chances they should or shouldn’t be given on “IPL warfare”.

“But people need to understand that we’re talking about the Indian cricket team. At the World Cup, all players are Team India representatives. Fans should have the acceptance. Once the IPL gets over, wipe the slate clean and move on. Fans sometimes engage in wars even after the IPL ends. Surya has that X-factor. Selectors know what they’re doing,” said Ashwin.

He added: “Just because your favourite player isn’t there you shouldn’t degrade the others. The selectors have tried to pick a balanced side.”

Ashwin also heaped praise on the new chairman of selectors, Ajit Agarkar, for bringing a lot of clarity to the team.

“This is something I found fascinating, and it’s really good. Agarkar recently took over as chairman of selectors and immediately he has put emphasis on clarity. After selecting a 17-member squad and a backup for the Asia Cup, both he and the captain gave a press conference. I don’t want to get into whether all teams are doing this or not,” he said.

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Need for ‘settled’ team

While Ashwin said that in the opening slots Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill were definite locks for the XI, Virat Kohli should play at No 3.

There has been some debate over whether Kohli should play in No 3 or No 4 in the batting order, with some former players like Ravi Shastri saying the former India captain should be ready to fill in at the No 4 slot if needed. But Ashwin gave an example of the Australian team and what made them contenders to hint at why India were unlikely to juggle around Kohli. “Matthew Hayden said Australia were contenders because they have a settled side. This word he used, ‘settled’ is an important one,” he said.

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While talking about the No 5 slot, he said that KL Rahul was a definite lock. “Ever since Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni retired, India were desperately looking for a replacement. Rahul has filled that slot with expertise.”

The off-spinner also said that the way Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna had played in the Ireland series has been encouraging.

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“Maybe barring one or two tiny things, they both looked in fantastic rhythm. The moment they showed their fitness, got bounce and showed their execution, they became automatic selections for Team India. In fact, Bumrah made an excellent point that he had been practicing to bowl his 10 over rather than four overs because his intention was always to gear up for the World Cup,” he said.

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