English former bowler Graeme Swann believes that Indian selectors did right by selecting Kuldeep Yadav over Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. He expected a great comeback from the Indian side to avenge their defeat in the ODI series.
He opined that the swing in England will benefit the home side in the ODI series against India since the Indians rely more on their spinners and they currently lack consistent speedsters.
“If the ball doesn’t swing, England will have to rely on reverse swing later on. Jimmy is not the same bowler with the older ball because by the time it starts reverse swinging, Kohli will be 60-70 not out,”
“England did well last time because Jimmy had the new ball swinging. It’s just not Indians who don’t do well against swing. Every batsman in the world doesn’t like it when the ball swings around especially when Anderson is bowling,”
“If it swings, England will win the Test series easily but if it doesn’t, and I don’t think it will, I think it will be a brilliant series. England don’t have a great spin attack in the Test series, so again India hold all the aces in that department too,” he added.
He said that Kuldeep Yadav is the right choice when it comes to the spinners for India ahead of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin since both of the latter had poor records in England. Kuldeep took 14 wickets from five matches in the limited-overs format. He said that India should avoid over depending on this chinaman bowler.
If I was an Indian, I would desperately want him to play in the Tests because he does provide mystery and the English batsmen cannot pick his googly. He also bowls a good length and went for just 20-odd on a beautiful batting wicket at Nottingham. He doesn’t give the batsmen enough opportunity to see the ball off the pitch, and can hit a perfect length and pace,”
“If India uses him wisely, he could be a massive bowler for them this summer, particularly if it continues to stay dry. This is where some caution is needed. He has bowled well, but he has also come up against two very poor teams against wrist spin in South Africa and England.
“So, my advice would be to not get carried away and put too much pressure on Kuldeep that he has to perform and do well always, which I thought happened in the latter half of the ODI series,”
Speaking about selecting Kuldeep Yadav ahead of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, “It is a tough call. But I would want to look and say ‘whom do England want to face? When playing in India, that answer would be Ashwin and Jadeja a hundred percent, and they would be my first two names on the sheet. In England, are they still the first two names?
“You look at their records from the past and what they bring to the team. You don’t have to play both of them, you can play just one. If I were blessed with a wrist spinner to pick, I would always personally put a wrist spinner in,” he added.
He further added that the series will be a tough fight between James Anderson and Virat Kohli.
”He (Kohli) is probably embarrassed by the last tour here because he is such a good player and that was not the Virat Kohli we know. He probably wants to right that wrong. And it is in his favor at the moment because the ball is not swinging.
“The hot weather we have been having, it is unseasonal, and there is no moisture around in the air or in the ground. That makes the ball swing in England and it has not been swinging,” he said.
Speaking about the results of ODI/T20I series, he said that England is in the strongest position than ever.
”England still has got some glaring weaknesses against spin and they were highlighted there. It was the same for India, who thought England will be a walkover after the first ODI. Lord’s was a bit of wake up call for India as well.
“(But) I don’t think it (England winning ODIs) will have much impact (on the Test series) to be honest because the England test team is so different. Instead, that will play into India’s hands to be honest because 80 percent of the batsmen haven’t played against Kuldeep yet,” he added.
Swann said that frail middle-order is the point India need to work on at the moment, including the form of MS Dhoni. He said “I don’t think it is down to form but more down to the change in pitches…it is not easy to keep adjusting even for a player who is as experienced or as good as Dhoni,”
“It often happens when your top-order is so powerful that guys later on in the middle don’t get a go (regularly). So when India win, it can sometimes mess up the middle order because they don’t get so many balls on the bat,” he concluded.