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ICC World Cup: Ashwin-Jadeja strategy was deja vu for Gavin Larsen

The way Ashwin & Jadeja restricted the Irish batters yesterday reminded former NZ medium-pacer of how he controlled the pace of the ball to prevent the opposition from scoring freely

Hamilton: Former New Zealand medium pacer Gavin Larsen was nicknamed ‘Postman’ because he always delivered on the cricket field. Now, 16 years after he hung his boots, he’s still delivering for his country as New Zealand’s World Cup cricket operations manager.

India’s off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates dismissing Ireland’s Paul Stirling at Seddon Park yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
India’s off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates dismissing Ireland’s Paul Stirling at Seddon Park yesterday. Pic/Getty Images

Larsen relied on his skill to control the pace of the ball in the middle of an innings and restrict the scoring of the opposition. No wonder, the former Black Cap was reminded of his ability by India’s slow bowlers on a slowish Seddon Park strip yesterday.

Gavin Larsen

Slower wicket
“This wicket was one of the slower pitches we’ve seen in this World Cup and when the Indian spinners came along they brilliantly took the pace off the ball and that’s when the problem started for the Irish in the middle of the innings,” Larsen told mid-day yesterday during the India vs Ireland World Cup Group ‘B’ clash.

Ireland openers William Porterfield and Paul Stirling got their team off to a flyer yesterday, putting on 53 from nine overs (including seven fours and two sixes) at 6.33 an over off the India pacers Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami and Mohit Sharma, before skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni employed Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin from either ends.

The spin twins gave away 32 runs thereafter before Ashwin dismissed Stirling (42 off 62 balls), who scooped one to Ainkya Rahane at long-off. Ashwin ended with figures of 2-38 at 3.8 runs per over. The rate is strikingly similar to that of Larsen (3.76), who played 121 ODIs for NZ, giving away just 629 runs between 1990 and 1999.

Larsen heaped praise on Ashwin. “It takes an absolute expert like Ashwin to be able to control batsmen nowadays, who look to attack throughout. Back then, I had a stock delivery which I bowled 80 per cent of the time, but the batsmen weren’t looking to get after me because it was during the middle overs.

“I took the pace off the ball and bowled slightly back of a length to ensure the ball goes on to hit the top of the stumps. That’s what I did in 1992,” added Larsen (52) referring to the year in which a World Cup was last held in New Zealand and where he helped Martin Crowe’s men reach the semi-finals.

Role play
Finally, being a restricting bowler, wickets were always hard to come by, but Larsen has no regrets about his 113 wickets. “It was a role given to me and I would do it even today. I’m fine even now with a one for 35 because I have done my job.” Incidentally, Ashwin’s 1-38 and the job of restricting the Irish, who were looking to reach the 300-mark at one stage, was done perfectly

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