New Delhi: A lot of talk has been around ace India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin’s battles against Australia’s batters, especially the left-handed ones.
It is seen from Ashwin’s 226 scalps out of 449 wickets in Test cricket being of left-handed batters.
Australia’s in-form left-handed opener Usman Khawaja, who recently won the Shane Warne Men’s Test Player of the Year Award in Australian Cricket Awards, is aware that his battle against Ashwin will be one of the most decisive match-ups in the series starting from February 9 in Nagpur.
“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.”
“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,” Khwaja was quoted as saying by ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ on Monday.
Khawaja, who scored 1020 runs in 2022 at an average of 78.46, including three centuries, is eager to see how he fares in his first outing in Indian conditions. Khawaja had been a member of Australia’s Test squads on tour of India in 2013 and 2017, but did not get a game.
“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 was razor-sharp in pointing out that the Indian spinners would be more difficult to face when they bowl with the new ball on a turning pitch. “If it’s a good wicket, the new ball is probably the easiest time to bat. But as soon as the wicket deteriorates in India and you’ve got spinners bowling with a new ball, that’s probably the hardest time to bat anywhere.”
“When we train, the new ball on spinning wickets is always the hardest time. People assume opening the batting is the best time to bat in the subcontinent, it is when it’s flat, but it’s not when it’s spinning when there’s so much variation with that new ball. Once it softens up it gets easier to predict what it’s going to do.”