Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir has said that the manner in which England all-rounder Ben Stokes was dismissed by Ravichandran Ashwin suggests that he does not have any game-plan to counter the threat posed by the champion off-spinner.
Ben Stokes was dismissed by Ashwin in both innings of the second Test in Chennai. While in the first innings, he played all around a pitched-up delivery by Ashwin, in the second innings, the Durham all-rounder played for the turn and ended up giving an easy catch to Virat Kohli at first slip.
“You create battles. The form Ravichandran Ashwin is in and when he is playing in his home conditions, he will target the top two players of the opposition. So the battles between Joe Root and Ashwin or Ben Stokes and Ashwin are very important for this series. The way Ravichandran Ashwin has dominated this battle shows Ben Stokes does not have any plan to tackle him,” said Gautam Gambhir.
Gambhir added that Ben Stokes batted well in the first innings of the first Test because the pitch wasn’t offering anything. He reckoned that on tracks conducive to spinners, Stokes will struggle to counter Ashwin with his defensive ploy.
“Stokes had batted well in the first innings of the first Test match because there was not much help. But if the wickets are like this, I feel it is difficult for Ben Stokes to survive for long if he goes into the survival mode,” pointed out Gambhir.
Most times dismissing a batsman by Ashwin in Test history:
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‘You cannot go into the survival mode when you are a naturally aggressive player’- Gautam Gambhir on Ben Stokes
The former opener reckoned that Ben Stokes did not get out to unplayable deliveries against Ashwin. According to Gambhir, it was his defensive mindset that led to his downfall.
“Ben Stokes has been in the survival mode in this entire Test match, not only today. If you see the first innings as well, it was not a delivery to get out to. If you try to defend a ball that is pitched right up, which is a ball to be hit, you are giving a greater opportunity for the ball to dismiss you. It was a straight ball today to which he got an inside,” said Gambhir.
Gambhir said that naturally aggressive players like Ben Stokes and Rishabh Pant cannot go into survival mode if they want to succeed in conditions that are aiding the bowlers.
“You cannot go into the survival mode when you are a naturally aggressive player. I don’t want to compare Rishabh Pant with Ben Stokes as Stokes is way ahead at the moment, but if you ask a player like Pant to go into the survival mode, he will not be able to survive for long. Ben Stokes is a similar kind of batsman. He needs to look to score runs whenever he gets an opportunity. If you play like this against Ashwin even on a flat wicket, he will dismiss you there as well,” signed off Gambhir.
Ben Stokes has now been dismissed by Ravichandran Ashwin on 10 occasions in 19 innings- the joint-most that the off-spinner dismissed alongside David Warner.