Muralitharan and Ashwin are two different bowlers: Thilan Samaraweera
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The Indian team has been a roll in Test cricket and one of the reasons for that is the exceptional form their ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has been in. With his red-hot form he has been breaching through the opposition as if slicing a slab of butter and with that records one after the other. Today, on the 4th day of the one-off Test against Bangladesh he became the fastest bowler to complete 250 wickets in Tests.
Though there was not much on offer from the surface he did trouble the Bangladeshis in the first as well as second inning. If he manages to elongate the purple patch he will be in line with some of the legends of the game but Bangladesh batting coach former Sri Lankan cricketer Thilan Samaraweera feels Muttiah Muralitharan and Ashwin are two different bowlers.
“They are two different bowlers. Murali was a genuinely gifted, talented cricketer. But Ashwin is very smart and has developed a skill set which says a lot about him. He has many variations, he can change his line and length but these two are hard to compare,” said Samaraweera after the end of the day’s play.
He also thinks the way Indian cricket has produced great cricketers one after the other to take cricket in that generation ahead is exceptional.
“I am the biggest believer in legacies. Like Sunil Gavaskar set the benchmark and then Sachin Tendulkar chased that. He set a higher benchmark and now Virat Kohli is chasing that. With Ashwin, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh set the benchmarks, and now he is chasing that. If he plays for another 7-8 years, hopefully he is fit, he will be in the range between 600 to 800 wickets.”
The Bangladesh batsmen showed a lot of resolute in the first innings like they have done on a number of occasions in the past as well but have this tendency to just crumble in the second innings and Samarweera is quite concerned about it.
“I think biggest concern for me is our second innings batting. We were blown away in New Zealand. Hopefully the boys are learning. At the moment, I know a lot of areas are there for improvement but you have to understand how good these spinners are. It’s important that we have to start well first half an hour,” the Sri Lankan mentioned.
Ashwin had Mominul Haque’s caught in the slips beautifully at the hands of Ajinkya Rahane just as he was getting settled and the batting coach feels that will hurt Bangladesh since he has the ability to see through a tough phase and would have helped them sail over with a draw.
“Unfortunately, Mini (Mominul Haque’s nickname since he is just 5 feet tall) is the biggest man. He is a solid No 3 in last 2-3 years. Unfortunately, he got out to a decent ball. We have another four-five batters left and we need to have multiple 60-70 run stands to save the match.”
The team though has the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal who have seen the darker days and are also witness to the age when their cricket is rising with the light but overall the line-up lacks experience.
“The biggest thing is when they play more and more Test cricket, I think they will get more awareness. I spoke to a few batsmen in England series. Some have never faced reverse swing bowling in domestic cricket. So it’s hard in international cricket. I can only tell them about the shiny side but they need to do it on their own to feel mentally strong.” Samarweera concluded.