For all his exploits (both with the bat and ball) in Indian conditions, Ravichandran Ashwin has hardly looked the bowler to threaten the opposition when playing away from home; especially in surroundings that are not suited to his bowling style.
And sure enough, India are feeling the heat of his failures. He took only one wicket in three one-dayers in the series against South Africa last month and went wicketless in the lone Test he featured in there.
So ordinary was he in the Johannesburg Test, when India escaped with a draw, that the team management did not have the confidence to field him in the next game. And sadly for MS Dhoni & Co, there seems to be no change in Ashwin’s luck in New Zealand, as was evident after the off-spinner went wicketless in the first ODI at Napier which the visitors lost by 24 runs.
While it would be unfair to target only Ashwin for the defeat on Sunday, Dhoni undoubtedly has a new challenge to contend with, given the fact that the lanky 27-year-old is his main spin bowler.
Zero for 52, 0-25 & 0-83, 0-63, 1-48; and 0-58 are figures that Ashwin has managed in the last 50-odd days that India have played in SA and NZ, and they certainly don’t paint a bright picture of the bowler, who on November 14, 2013 became India’s fastest to complete 100 Test wickets.
So where is he going wrong? “It’s pretty obvious that Ashwin has not been able to adjust to the pitches, first in South Africa and now in New Zealand,” former India spinner Maninder Singh told MiD DAY yesterday.
“It is never easy for our spinners to bowl on tracks that favour fast bowlers, but I certainly feel that Ashwin can bowl much better than he is doing at the moment,” added Maninder.
Given the current situation, one option that India had in the remaining four ODIs was to field four pacemen, but Dhoni shot it down after the Napier clash. This means Ashwin is likely to continue playing in the coming games.
“I feel it’s time for the captain and coach to speak to Ashwin and explain things to him. He definitely has the potential to turn his game around,” observed Maninder, before adding: “As of now, I think he is trying too many things in the middle. He would be better off sticking to his strengths and staying patient.”
No four-pace attack
Explaining why he was not in favour of playing four pacemen, Dhoni had said on Sunday: “Two things happen whenever we play with four fast bowlers. One, the captain gets banned, and two, we lose. They are not good stats and I want to play in the series.”
But another reason that Maninder feels could be playing on the skipper’s mind is the erratic nature of the current pacemen, especially Ishant Sharma. “I don’t think India have much choice because Ishant is not showing much consistency,” he said.
The second ODI awaits India in Hamilton tomorrow and one hopes the results are brighter, both for the visitors and Ashwin.