IPL 9: R Ashwin was disappointing, says Pune coach Fleming

Rising Pune Supergiants coach Stephen Fleming expresses dissatisfaction at India off-spinner's poor form in ongoing IPL

Pune: There was a lot of debate following India's lead bowler Ravichandran Ashwin not completing his full quota of overs against the West Indies in the World T20 semi-final last month.

Rising Pune Supergiants’ off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin during the IPL opening match against  Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium recently. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Rising Pune Supergiants’ off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin during the IPL opening match against  Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium recently. Pic/Suresh Karkera

But it wasn't for the first time that skipper MS Dhoni did not bowl Ashwin for his full quota of overs in that tournament
Now, it has become more of a norm than an exception.

Ashwin has bowled his full quota only twice in five games for Rising Pune Supergiants so far.

And, while Dhoni has constantly avoided criticising his lead spinner by explaining the cricketing logic and the dew factor; Supergiants coach Stephen Fleming was a lot more straightforward in agreeing that the off-spinner from Chennai is struggling to find form.

Stephen Fleming
Stephen Fleming

"I think Ashwin was disappointing today," Fleming said of his lead spinner's performance against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday.

Ashwin bowled two overs inside the Powerplay, and was hit for a six in each of those overs by Suryakumar Yadav.

Ashwin struggled to find his line, and bowled three wides. Dhoni did not bring back Ashwin after those first two overs yielded 21 runs.

'He can be better'
"I would have thought that he could have played a key role. But in terms of that line in the first six overs, he just struggled to get to grips with the pace and line he wanted to bowl. So, we have to look at that, but if we get conditions like that again, I think he himself would concede he can be better."

Ashwin wasn't the only one to blame for Sunday's loss to KKR though.

The other two spinners — Murugan Ashwin and Ankit Sharma — were guilty of bowling too full at crucial times.

With KKR needing 80 runs from the last nine overs, M Ashwin bowled a near perfect over, bowling back of a length and conceding just two singles in the first five balls.

Suddenly, he bowled a full one, and Yusuf Pathan deposited him over long-on boundary for a maximum. The first ball of M Ashwin's next over was a similar delivery, and Pathan gave him the same treatment.

M Ashwin then bowled another full-length delivery to Yadav, and the Mumbai lad smacked him to the cover boundary.
When KKR needed 42 from the last-four overs, the game was still very much in the balance. This time, it was Ankit, who was guilty of bowling too full, as Andre Russell hammered him for two sixes. KKR took 17 runs from that over, and the pressure was off.

MSD's instructions
"I told them, whatever variations you want to do with your pace and line, don't bowl full. But despite that, five were bowled, and 30 runs were scored. That's a lot you know. But you can only advice; once someone has bat or ball in his hand, nobody else can help him," Dhoni said after the match.

Fleming was equally critical of his spinners. "I think our spinners were very poor today," the former New Zealand captain said.

"We saw there was a lot of assistance for the slow bowlers, but we still did not adjust. We did not use that spin to create enough pressure. We kept Kolkata in the game. They hit well at crucial times, but our fielding and the bowling… the slow bowling in particular towards the middle overs was left wanting and that is disappointing. One hundred sixty one was easily defendable," he added.

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