Ravichandran Ashwin was one of the very few Indian cricketers who was able to take positives out of the day-night Adelaide Test. The India off-spinner not only got Australia’s best batsman Steve Smith out with a slider that got the experts talking but also ended up as the visitors’ most successful bowler with 4 wickets beside his name, that too on the first innings of a pink-ball Test. Ashwin picked up another wicket in the second innngs and returned with match figures of 5 for 71.
However, as astonishing as it may sound, Ashwin’s position as the sole spinner might have been in doubt had Ravindra Jadeja been fit for the first Test. Despite Ashwin being the most successful spinner for India, somehow there has always been a question mark over his place in the side whenever the team goes abroad. Stressing on the same fact, legendary India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar said Ashwin suffers not for his bowling skills but for his ‘forthrightness’ and ‘speaking his mind at meetings’.
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“For far too long Ashwin has suffered not for his bowling ability of which only the churlish will have doubts, but for his forthrightness and speaking his mind at meetings where most others just nod even if they don’t agree,” Gavaskar wrote in his column for Sportstar.
Gavaskar went on stating that a player of Ashwin calibre should be an asset to any Test side.
“Any other country would welcome a bowler who has more than 350 Test wickets and not to forget four Test match centuries, too.
“However, if Ashwin doesn’t take heaps of wickets in one game he is invariably sidelined for the next one. That does not happen to established batsmen though. Even if they fail in one game they get another chance and another and another but for Ashwin the rules seem to be different,” Gavaskar wrote.
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The former India opener also heaped praise on Ashwin for his delivery to Steve Smith, that dismissed him for his lowest Test score – 1 – against India in Tests in the first innings in Adelaide.
How are Ashwin’s recent numbers overseas?
Notably, since 2018, Ashwin has improved significantly in SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia) countries in Tests. Also, Ashwin has taken wickets in each of his last 8 innings in Tests in SENA countries. His last wicketless innings came at Nottingham in 2018.
Moreover, in 2020, Ashwin has played 2 Tests in 2020 and both outside Asia — New Zealand and Australia. Despite that, he has an impressive bowling average of 21.25 from 53 overs and the strike rate of 39.7 — best for him in a calendar year.
Now that Ravindra Jadeja is fit and almost certain to make India’s playing Xi for the second Test in Melbourne it will be interesting to see whether India plays two spinners and five bowling options despite their batting being under fire.