Auckland: India's Ravichandran Ashwin came in for high praise from former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming who yesterday described the ace spinner as a "good student" of the game and was impressed with the way he works on creating new deliveries.
Stephen Fleming. Pic/Rajeev Tyagi
Ashwin has been one of India's prime performers with 11 wickets from five games at an economy rate of less than four in the ongoing World Cup. "I have always been impressed with Ashwin as he is such a good student of the game with great work ethic. Look at the manner in which he creates a new delivery. He loves the game, thinks very hard, he is in a way cricket tragic, statistically motivated," Fleming said during a promotional event of the World Cup.
"He needs confidence from the team and he gets that with seam bowlers taking wickets upfront. That enables him to attack," said Fleming, who has also been Ashwin's coach at IPL team Chennai Super Kings. It was at CSK, in 2013 that Mohit Sharma¿s emergence started and no wonder Fleming is happy with his development. "India has always had a weakness as far as their third seamer is concerned. They turned it to one of their strengths.
Ishant Sharma went home, it could have been difficult for India. I have seen Mohit's development closely and his work with Andy Bichel (CSK bowling coach) has been impressive. "He started with good performance against Pakistan, he has got confidence. Indian pacers are now all in 140 kmph to 145 kmph mark and they are relishing bowling at that pace," he said.
Just like skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had said that a lot is being made of Suresh Raina¿s susceptibility against short-ball, Fleming also spoke in same vein. "I don't think he (Raina) has any problems as such. If he initially spends some time, he can actually work that to his strength. May be there is an anxiety but it won¿t be a problem as far as the smaller grounds of New Zealand is concerned.
May be a bit of problem if he goes to the big grounds of Australia, as he tends to hook up rather than roll his wrists. He can get better and he knows that. I don't think it's as big a weakness as people make it out to be," Fleming firmly backed his CSK player. Ask him what does this team of 2015 led by Brendon McCullum possess that team of 1992 under Martin Crowe did not, Fleming laughed and said, "Probably 15 kmph of more pace.
Well, Martin¿s team played a different brand of cricket while Brendon has developed a side that plays aggressive cricket. It has taken him two years to build the side. Often you want to create a style but the you need a team to back that up. Brendon has created that team."
While he is extremely happy and wants New Zealand to go all the distance unlike other Black Caps teams in earlier edition, Fleming is apprehensive about individual brilliance that can turn the tables in the knock-out rounds. "When it comes to quarter-final, semi-final and final, it's about one particular individual playing on that particular day. It could be Glenn Maxwell, Chris Gayle or AB de Villiers, anybody who could just turn the game around," Fleming signed off.