Senior Team India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has a challenge for teammate Cheteshwar Pujara ahead of the highly-anticipated Test series against England. The four-match series will commence on February 5 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
Both teams are coming from the back of victories and it is likely to be well-contested series. While India scripted a historic 2-1 win in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, England routed Sri Lanka 2-0 in the two-match series. Joe Root led the team from the front hitting a double century in the first Test and followed it up with another big century in the second outing.
Ravichandran Ashwin challenges Cheteshwar Pujara
England spinners have also done reasonably well and they will look to keep up the excellent work against Indian batters especially Cheteshwar Pujara, who was the fulcrum of India’s batting in the series Down Under. Pujara weathered more than 900 deliveries in the four-Test matches and stood like a rock against a quality Australian bowling attack, which had a combined experience of more than a thousand Test scalps.
The batsman from Saurashtra didn’t play a single extravagant shot in all the eight innings he batted Down Under and it is the very reason that Ravichandran Ashwin has thrown a challenge for Pujara. The off-spinner challenged Cheteshwar Pujara to step down the track against any English spinner, Ashwin will shave half of his moustache.
During a conversation with India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour on his official YouTube channel, Ravichandran Ashwin asked the batting coach, “Will we ever see Pujara hit an off-spinner over the top?”
“Work-in-progress. I’m trying to convince him that at least once go over the top. He is still not convinced, he is giving me great reasons,” Rathour replied.
“If he goes over the top against Moeen Ali or any other spinner stepping down the wicket in this English series that we gonna play, I will take half my moustache out and come to play the game. This is an open challenge,” Ravichandran Ashwin said jokingly.
To which Rathour said, “That’s a great challenge to put across. Let’s hope that he takes it up. I don’t think he will take it up.”
It will be interesting to see if Cheteshwar Pujara takes up the challenge. On the other hand, Ravichandran Ashwin will return to action against England after missing the last Test against Australia at the Gabba.