R Ashwin far better than Harbhajan, will torment Australia: Ashley Mallett

R Ashwin far better than Harbhajan, will torment Australia: Ashley Mallett

Ravichandran Ashwin
India bowlers Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh. (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Australian spinner Ashley Mallett was in full praise for Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. He has been in a wonderful form. He was the leading wicket-taker for India in the home series against South Africa last year. He continued his good form in the home conditions by steamrolling South Africa and New Zealand. Currently, he is the pick of all the bowlers in the ongoing England series. Now, he will surely have his eyes set on the touring Australians next year.

Australia are scheduled to play 4 Tests in February next year in India. Amidst such a backdrop, Ashley Mallett, Australia’s most successful off-spinner in India, believes that R Ashwin will help India win 4-0 against Australia. In a conversation with the Mid Day, Mallett mentioned that Ashwin will make the Australians suffer the same way as he is making the Englishmen do. Mallett was influential during the 3-1 win for the Aussies in the 1969-70 series in India. He had claimed 28 wickets then.

Earlier, he had predicted that Harbhajan Singh will trouble Australia before the 2001 Australia’s tour to India. Bhajji had proved him right by picking up 32 wickets. The former Aussie cricketer feels that Ashwin is a far better spinner than Harbhajan Singh. He mentioned that had Matthew Hayden played against Ashwin, he would have hardly scored a run.

“Ashwin is the best offie India has produced since EAS Prasanna. He’s far better than Harbhajan. If Ashwin had a bowl at Matthew Hayden (Australia’s batting star in the 2001 series), he would have hardly got a run. Harbhajan just bowled with the same pace and Hayden kept playing his slog sweeps. Hayden didn’t rotate the strike and he found a way to bludgeon bowlers out of the ground,” quoted Mallett. Mallett further added that Australians have always struggled against a good off spinner.

“Traditionally, Australia have been hopeless against a good off-spinner,” he quoted. He cited that barring Steve Smith, no other Aussie batsman can play spin well. “Australia will be aware of how good Ashwin is. We’ve got only one player who can play spin bowling of any quality and that is Steve Smith. Warner is a wonderful striker when the ball comes on to the bat, but he can’t play spin at all,” pointed Mallett.

He also mentioned that Usman Khawaja is a class act but hopeless against spin bowling. “The Englishmen have no idea of how to play off-spin and the Australians can’t play spin bowling to save their lives except Smith. Usman Khawaja is a wonderful player and does remind me of Lara in some ways, but he’s hopeless against spin,” he conceded.

Talking about the Australian offie Nathan Lyon, Mallett believes he will have a tough tour. He backs Steve O Keefe to be relatively more successful than him. “Lyon is better on harder wickets which have better bounce, but on the sub-continent he is very ordinary,” suggested the former cricketer.