Former India Team Director Ravi Shastri wants to see off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin against South Africa in India's do-or-die ICC Champions Trophy clash at The Oval on Sunday. Defending champions India, who lost their previous Group B match against Sri Lanka, have to get past the world No.1 ranked ODI team in a virtual quarter-final to qualify for the semi-final stage.
Shastri, while speaking exclusively to India TV from London, said India should go in with two spinners and Ashwin should be a part of the attack.
The premier off-spinner from Tamil Nadu, who is ranked No.2 in the Test bowling charts, didn't feature in India's first two games against Pakistan and Sri Lanka as skipper Kohli went in with one specialist spinner in Ravindra Jadeja.
However, Shastri feels Ashwin should replace Kedar Jadhav and not Hardik Pandya in the playing XI.
"I think Ravichandran Ashwin needs to play against South Africa. India should play with two spinners. Ashwin should not replace Hardik Pandya, he should come in place of Kedar Jadhav. Ashwin, Pandya or Jadeja can bat at No.6 and we also have the depth in the batting. Dhoni will come at No.5," Shastri told India TV.
The former India captain said India should not put themselves under pressure against South Africa and should come out with positive intent.
"This is a big match for both the teams, not just for India but for South Africa as well as they both have everything to play for. India should think that the pressure is on South Africa as they are the world No.1 ranked ODI team and India are No.2. So, they should think that this is a quarter-final which they have to win.
"India should think that the "chokers" tag is with South Africa and that should remain with them. It is okay that Virat Kohli and men lost against Sri Lanka but in this match they should come out with a positive intent," he said.
Shastri also said that including Mohammed Shami will be tough for Kohli.
"I think playing Mohammed Shami will be a bit tough and I believe Umesh Yadav is a better option as he is match fit."
He also said that India will be wary of the South African top order as the Proteas include some of the big hitters in their line-up.
"India will be wary of South Africa's top order, which includes the likes of AB de Villiers, David Miller, JP Duminy. They also have Chris Morris, who gives depth to their batting. I don't think they have the variety in their bowling. They are a pace heavy unit and their batting is the strong point," he said.