If the Adelaide Oval strip offers some assistance, off-spinner R Ashwin, who has a fine tally of six wickets at an economy rate of 7.52 so far, will be a different force in the semi-final v England on Thursday
R Ashwin during the T20 World Cup match v Zimbabwe recently where he took 3-22. Pic/Getty Images
By his own lofty standards, R Ashwin has had a relatively quiet time of it in the T20 World Cup. But in a tournament dominated by the faster bowers and wrist spinners—Sri Lankan Wanindu Hasaranga is the leading wicket-taker thus far with 15 scalps and Pakistani leggie Shadab Khan has 10, but the six bowlers between them are all quicks—Ashwin has kept the flag flying for the finger spinners.
On Sunday against Zimbabwe, after the pacers had reduced the opposition to 36 for five, Ashwin stepped in to deliver the knockout blows, finishing with three for 22. That took his tally of wickets for the tournament to six which, allied with an economy rate of 7.52, has reiterated his value to this Indian T20 team.
It’s debatable where Ashwin’s future as a white-ball international is headed—he hasn’t been picked for either white-ball format in New Zealand after the World Cup ends, or in the ODI squad for Bangladesh—but at 36, Ashwin doesn’t worry about these things anymore. He has always been grounded in the present and sees no reason to look too far ahead, unless he is plotting the dismissal of a batsman in the longest format.
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On Saturday, ahead of the Zimbabwe game, Ashwin had stressed on adaptability as the key to success in the T20 format. “As a spinner, coming in the back half, the ninth or 10th over and then doing the job at the back-end is a role we have to adapt to,” he pointed out.
“It’s not like I haven’t done that role before. It happens in the IPL [Indian Premier League] now and then. The demands of the game, what the situation is and what you have to deliver for the team is what adaptation calls for,” he added.
He put his money where his mouth was on Sunday, varying his pace nicely, keeping a close watch on the batsman as he always does, and finding the wherewithal to change his plans at the last second.
“It felt good [to get those wickets] and obviously it helps improve the confidence. I am not for numbers, I do the process, but it felt nice. It always helps when you get wickets, it sets you up for the next set of games.”
India’s next game is Thursday’s semi-final against England at the Adelaide Oval.
“I have been seeing the games there and getting a sense of the surface on offer,” Ashwin observed.
“Plus, we have already played a match there [against Bangladesh] and have a fair idea,” he added.
With his tidy off-spin and useful cameos at the death, Ashwin has kept himself relevant in the current scenario. If the Adelaide Oval strip offers some assistance, rest assured that he will be a different force against an England side that made a meal of a modest chase against Sri Lanka on Saturday night at the same venue.