Ravichandran Ashwin is in a race against time to recover from an abdominal injury for the fourth and final Test against Australia at Sydney. @ AFP
Ravichandran Ashwin is in a race against time to recover from an abdominal injury for the fourth and final Test against Australia at Sydney. @ AFP

Former India batsman VVS Laxman believes the inclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin, currently in a race against time to recover from an abdominal injury for the fourth and final Test against Australia at Sydney, will ease some of the burden on the quicks.

“Going by what Tim Paine has said, a turner is on the cards in Sydney which, in my eyes, makes the call of who should replace Rohit Sharma fairly obvious,” Laxman wrote in his column for the Times of India on Wednesday.

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“Already, the fast bowlers have shouldered a heavy workload, and the inclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin will not just strengthen the spin department but also ease some of the burden on the quicks. As he has shown many times in the past, Ashwin has the technique to do well with the bat overseas. I would back him to make a successful return to the playing XI, just as I would back India to sign off with a win and bring back the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in style.”

Laxman also heaped praise on Hanuma Vihari, who despite batting in an unfavourable position as an opener at Melbourne, managed to absorb some of the pressure. Vihari, who faced 66 balls for his 8, registered a 40-run opening partnership with debutant Mayank Agarwal.

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“While Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli were the obvious heroes, I feel no praise can be too high for the manner in which Mayank Agarwal batted on debut. He looked solid, assured, and completely at home, while in the unfamiliar role of an opener, Hanuma Vihari too held his own. He might have made only eight, but by facing 66 deliveries and putting on 40 with Agarwal, he took the shine off the new ball, and the pressure off Pujara and Virat,” Laxman explained.

Meanwhile, Laxman reserved special words of praise for in-form pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who took nine wickets in the MCG Test and finished the year with 45 Test wickets – the most by an Indian bowler in a debut year.

“The bowlers were again outstanding, as they were for almost the entire duration of last year. Not for the first time, Jasprit Bumrah was the outstanding performer with his hostility and accuracy,” Laxman said.

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“His rise to the forefront in red-ball cricket has to be the success story for Indian cricket in 2018, but while he walked away with a bulk of the wickets and the man-of-the match award, it was far from a one-man show. The other three bowlers, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja, each played his part to perfection, and acting as a team, the bowling unit managed to conquer the slowness of the MCG surface exceedingly well.”