'Playing Ashwin is like playing chess' - Marnus Labuschagne sets eyes on India challenge

Marnus Labuschagne talked up the Ashwin threat ahead of Australia's imminent tour of India in early 2023. 
R Ashwin has been an unsurpassable figure in Indian conditions. ?width=963&height=541&resizemode=4

Marnus Labuschagne lauded R Ashwin for his range and control over variations and called him a great bowler. 

The Border-Gavaskar Trophy might be another six months away but Marnus Labuschagne has his eyes already set on the India challenge in February-March 2023. 

Australia's rising young Test batter is especially focused on countering the hosts' ace off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, the battle against whom, he thinks, "is like playing chess". 

Labuschagne faced Ashwin during the 2020-21 home summer, with great back and forth between the two skilful individuals over the four Tests, and is now looking forward to renewing his interesting rivalry with easily the world's best contemporary Test match spinner. 

In an interview with News9 Sports over YouTube, Marnus Labuschagne talked of the Ashwin threat and made a comment on the bowler's awareness and variety, expecting him to have spotted certain chinks in his armoury while he batted in Pakistan and Sri Lanka earlier in the year. 

Marnus Labuschagne expects R Ashwin to come prepared for him

"Well, just like I have done my research (on Ashwin), I am sure he has done his research on me," Marnus Labuschagne said. "Being a great cricket fan as Ashwin is, he has most probably watched those series in Pakistan and Sri Lanka and picked up a few things (about his game)." 

"My job is to make sure I continue to develop and be a step ahead of him. It's going to be a great challenge to face him in those spinning conditions in India but one that I am really looking forward to," he added. 

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Ashwin boasts of an incredible record in India, having taken 312 of his career Test wickets in home terrain at a remarkable average of 21.16. 24 of Ashwin's 30 five-wicket hauls have come in Indian conditions where he has a strike-rate of just 47.1 and has over the years helped built, along with spin partner Ravindra Jadeja, a fortress that hasn't been breached since England's 2-1 series triumph in 2012. 

Developed into a robust bowler with a wider range and excellent control over his craft, Ashwin was instrumental in India winning the 2020-21 Test series in Australia, taking 12 wickets at 28.83 in three Tests, including maintaining a wood over Labuschagne in the first two games in Adelaide and Melbourne. 

There was no loss of respect in his voice when Labuschagne said: "the great thing about Ashwin is his ability to bowl anyway. He can change his seam angles, he can change the trajectory, his pace and angles on the crease.. I don't think there is anyone in the world that does that better."

The Australian batter likened facing Ashwin to the game of chess, wherein no other bowler in the world plans and plots his moves against a batter quite like the Indian spin stalwart. For Labuschagne, "the ability and control over variations make Ashwin great".