SOUTHAMPTON: Former India batsman VVS Laxman has backed seasoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and pacer Ishant Sharma to come good in the much-awaited World Test Championship (WTC) final.
India will be locking horns against New Zealand in the finals, beginning Friday, at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
Laxman believes all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is a complete package for him but Ashwin should be the first-choice spinner in the summit clash.
"Ravichandran Ashwin will be my first-choice spinner. And as rightly mentioned, the way he bowled in Australia, he put pressure on the best batsman in the opposition line-up -- Steve Smith -- and consistently got him out and that was one of the reasons why India went on to win that Test series," said Laxman on Star Sports show Cricket Connected.
"It shows that Ashwin is very talented, very skillful, and now he's got the confidence of even performing in overseas conditions. So, he will be my first-choice spinner and Ravindra Jadeja, you can't just forget him.
"He is not only a spinner who can bowl in helpful conditions. Over the last two years, he has improved immensely in beating the batsman with his style, flight, and variation in pace. So, I just feel that he is a complete package for me," he added.
The former Indian batsman said Ishant has contributed a lot to the team's success and nobody should "discount" the pacer's experience going into the WTC final.
"Appreciate the way Mohammad Siraj performed in Australia and with the limited opportunities he got against England in the home series. But I think the way Ishant Sharma has contributed to the success and progress of the Indian team -- we can't discount that," said Laxman.
"So, I would definitely go with the experience. It's a one-off Test match, it's a World Test Championship final. I would back Ishant Sharma because over so many years he has contributed immensely to the Indian team and we've seen that it's actually the leader of the pack.
"Yet, I understand Jasprit Bumrah has emerged as a lethal bowler along with Mohammed Shami, but I would back Ishant Sharma in this all-important final," he added.
The winners of the much-awaited WTC final between India and New Zealand will take home a purse of USD 1.6 million along with the ICC Test Championship Mace.