Melbourne: Former India pace spearhead Javagal Srinath on Wednesday compared off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to Anil Kumble, considered one of the best tweakers the sport has produced.
In a column for the International Cricket Council (ICC) website, Srinath, who is India's most successful bowler in the World Cups along with seamer Zaheer Khan (44 wickets) wrote: "Irrespective of what happened in the Zimbabwe game where Brendan Taylor played a memorable innings, Ashwin remains a key player of the Indian side, no matter who the opposition is.
"He is turning out to be one of the very few spinners in the competition commanding tremendous respect from every team. He is very much like Anil Kumble. Dhoni is happy using him in the first 10 overs, in the batting Powerplay and at the death too. That's because Dhoni sees him as a wicket-taking bowler not as someone who will only look to contain the opposition."
Now a match referee, Srinath has bet on India winning the quarterfinal against Bangladesh on Thursday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), saying "they have mastered the art of winning crunch games".
"I back India to come through unscathed. I know that every time India meet Bangladesh in the World Cup, everyone goes back to 2007 and what happened in Port of Spain," he said.
"This Indian side bears no resemblance to that team whose morale was so low right from the start of the competition. Even though Bangladesh are playing their best cricket, this is a happy Indian side that has mastered the art of winning crunch games."
The 45-year-old added that from now on there will be no room for mistakes as each team will try and outdo the other.
"From now onwards, this is almost an entirely new tournament, therefore the approach will also be different from all the teams. From here on, there are no second chances. It's a do-or-die situation and everyone will look to up the tempo further. There simply is no room for mistakes or slip-ups," he wrote.
The former right-arm pacer said that while the responsibilities of carrying the team forward rests with the batsmen, the bowlers need to deliver to allow Dhoni to think about other aspects of the game.
"At this stage of the competition, I can't see too many pitches favouring the bowlers. Consequently, the batsmen must embrace the responsibility of carrying the team on their shoulders. If the bowlers can restrict oppositions to less than 300, then great credit to them. It is important that they continue to keep up the good work," Srinath said.
"When the bowlers do well, it allows the batsmen to go in with a positive frame of mind. It also allows Dhoni the freedom of thinking with a clear mind about things like the batting order, like his own batting. This wonderful balance of spirit between the bowling and the batting must be sustained for India to go all the way and retain the Cup."
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