New Delhi, January 28: Former England cricketer Monty Panesar believes India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is going to be the key to India's success in the upcoming four-Test series against England.
Panesar is of the opinion it won't be easy for the English batsmen to counter the Indian spin spearhead but if the Joe Root-led side manages to deal with him then they might actually win the series.
Speaking with Times of India, the 38-year-old said the Tamil Nadu cricketer will be high on confidence after an emphatic show against Australia in the latter's own backyard.
"Ashwin had a great tour of Australia and will come into the series with tons of confidence. How England play Ashwin will decide the outcome of the series. Ashwin has become smarter with the way he has bowled in recent times and is in prime form," Panesar said.
Panesar - who was a part of the England side which won the Test series in India in 2012-13 - said Ashwin, as well as the Indian side, will be missing the services of Ravindra Jadeja. The left-arm spinner, who picked up 17 wickets in the 2012-13 tour, feels Jadeja's absence could be a big setback for the hosts. Jadeja is going to miss the series after fracturing his thumb in the third Test against Australia.
"Jadeja will be missed. The second spinner will be crucial for India as Ashwin will need support from the other end to put England under pressure. They have named Axar Patel in the squad but I do believe that Jadeja adds a different dimension to the Indian team," added Monty Panesar.
The tweaker also advised England bowlers to not put undue pressure on themselves while facing India's world-class batting line-up.
"In India, bowlers need to have an in-and-out field. You should have fielders at close-in positions as well as in the deep. You have to keep mixing things up and cut down the scoring opportunities for the Indian batsmen which will make them take risks. That's where England bowlers have a chance," the 38-year-old added.
Later, while responding to Mykhel's tweet, Panesar also lauded the importance of Indian pacers and tweeted: "Ashwin will be a key figure in the series let's not forget the Indian fast bowlers who got to move the ball more than the Australians."
Ashwin will be a key figure in the series let's not forget the Indian fast bowlers who got to move the ball more than the Australians @ashwinravi99 @MdShami11 @cricketaakash @BoriaMajumdar #ENGvIND https://t.co/oLVbE6J6hg— Monty Panesar (@MontyPanesar) January 28, 2021
India will take on England in the opening Test at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, starting February 5. The second Test will also be played at the same venue starting February 12.