Wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik feels the time is ripe for R Ashwin to play his first match of the ongoing five-Test series between India and England. India have gone with four pacers and a specialist spinner in Ravindra Jadeja so far in the series but that could change in the fourth Test beginning at The Oval on Thursday.
"I believe the time is ripe for Ravichandran Ashwin to make his first appearance of the series. Traditionally, The Oval has thrown up some of the flattest pitches in England, and it has been no different this season.
"Three of Surrey's five matches at home in the County Championship have ended indecisively, and ten hundreds have been registered in those games," Karthik wrote in 'The Telegraph'.
The wicket-keeper batsman feels Ashwin's versatility will help India at The Oval.
"If I was Virat Kohli, I'd like to bring a new dimension into play in this crucial Test. As Ashwin has shown in his storied career, he hasn't necessarily relied on assistance from the surface to make an impact. England have two left-handers in their top three and three in the top seven."
"The off-spinner's record against lefties is second to none, and he is more than handy against the right-handers, who he tests with the knuckle ball and the floater that he has mastered through hours of diligent practice away from the harsh spotlight of the international game."
Karthik, who will be playing in the upcoming IPL, said that the conditions will suit Ashwin's style of bowling. The bounce at The Oval, Karthik believes, will make the off-spinner a menace should he play.
"In Australia, Ashwin got excellent drift with the Kookaburra ball, getting it to curl away from the right-hander in the air and break back on pitching. That's how he had Steve Smith caught at leg-slip in the second Test in Melbourne.
"He is equally comfortable switching to around the stumps and getting the ball to go away with the angle, a trick that netted him the prized scalps of Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, Australia's two best batsmen.
"Like the Australian tracks, The Oval boasts bounce, which is Ashwin's greatest ally away from home. He is willing to try to buy wickets because he is always focused on getting batsmen out," Karthik wrote.
On Wednesday, India's bowling coach Bharath Arun said that the management will take a last-minute call on Ashwin, whether to include him in the playing XI for the fourth Test.