Sri Lankan spin great Muttiah Muralitharan goes against Ravi Shastri’s view and still feels that Ashwin is the best in ODI cricket. @ AFP

There’s been an interesting debate that going around cricket circles. Who is India’s top Test spinner? Ravichandran Ashwin or Kuldeep Yadav. There was a time when Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja used to hunt in pairs. However, the duo lost their spots in the coloured jersey after wrist-spinners Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal – fondly known KulCha – began dominating the spin contingent.

Head coach Ravi Shastri too revealed that as far as the think tank is concerned, Kuldeep is higher in the pecking order as compared to Ashwin, who has been left to battle plenty of injuries. The Chinaman bowler has played 6 Tests so far and picked up 24 wickets at 24.12. In Australia, he played just one Test and picked up his second five-wicket haul.

Sri Lankan spin great Muttiah Muralitharan goes against Shastri’s view and still feels that Ashwin is the best in ODI cricket.

“Kuldeep has been bowling really well, but it’s not for me to comment whether he should be India’s No. 1 spinner or Ashwin. When it comes to offspinners in the world, I still think Ashwin is the best,” Muralitharan was quoted as saying in the Times of India on Sunday.

Asked to justify his decision, Muralitharan, who has claimed 800 wickets in Tests, said: “You tell me why not? Who do you think is better than him, Nathan Lyon? Well, I will go by the number of wickets that Ashwin has taken. Yes, people may argue that Lyon is taking wickets in Australia, but he is supposed to take wickets there. Ashwin will take wickets where he plays, even I took more than 500 (of my 800) in the subcontinent.”

Shastri had made it clear that going forward, wrist-spinners will be in vogue in Test cricket and Kuldeep is the clear favourite in that regard. Muralitharan analyses Shastri’s decision.

“Wrist-spinners will always impart more revolutions on the ball and that’s why they get more turn, it’s basic science. Even though I was an off-spinner, I was probably the only one who used to bowl off spin using a lot of wrist. For now, wrist-spinners are doing very well, but I still think finger spinners are more accurate than wrist spinners when it comes to ODIs,” he said.

“Kuldeep and Chahal are good and batsmen outside the subcontinent don’t always know how to deal with wrist-spinners for the simple reason that they don’t play them much. Yes, they have been very successful, but don’t forget that they have hardly played teams from the subcontinent. It could be interesting to seem them perform against the subcontinent sides.”

Quizzed about India’s chances in the ICC World Cup 2019, he said: “Well, of course the way they are playing, they should be among the top two. England are the favourites just because the tournament is being played in their backyard and they have done well in the 50-over format of late. But India have been quite superb all around the world.”

Muralitharan has been one player who has played when Virat Kohli made his debut in August 2008 against Sri Lanka in Dambulla. “He was young back then and he is at the peak of his career now. From 25-28 is the peak of a cricketer’s career, but after 34-35, everyone will slow down. As far as records are concerned, nothing is impossible. It depends on how long he will play and how fit he is. It is also whether he can continue like this,” he said.