R Ashwin has been a prime reason behind India managing to keep Australia’s dangerous duo of Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne quiet in the first two Tests. Smith and Labuschagne, Australia’s two most stand out batsmen were the biggest threats for India given their Test record. Smith was always going to be India’s No. 1 target, and Labuschagne wasn’t far behind either given the run-machine he has been for Australia since his Test debut last year, but Ashwin has helped India negate their threat.
Twice has Ashwin dismissed Smith and Labuschagne, making many believe that perhaps he has the wood over the former Australia captain. Smith has so far scored just 10 runs from four innings at an average of 3.33, while Labuschagne has not been able to convert his starts. With success against two of the most dangerous batsmen, Ashwin, with 10 wickets in two Tests, is proving his credentials as the best spinner in the world, but his workload is set to increase with the impending return of David Warner.
Warner is not yet a 100 percent but given Australia’s batting frailty, it is assumed that the left-handed opening batsman, who was out nursing an injured hamstring, is set to return to the side. And while Australia will be eagerly waiting for his return, this provides an opportunity for Ashwin to improve his record against Warner. Ashwin has dismissed Warner nine times in Test matches, which is the joint-highest dismissals for the off-spinner along with former England captain Alastair Cook.
Having said that, the job at hand won’t be easy for India’s premier spinner. The last time Warner was dismissed by a spinner was in 2017 – by England captain Joe Root at the MCG.
Since his return to the team in 2019 following the 12-month long ban, all his 16 dismissals have come against fast bowlers. It is interesting to note that of the nine dismissals of Warner by Ashwin, five have come in India and four in Australia, two of which have come at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Ashwin has dismissed Warner in Australia with a far better accuracy than in India.