Ravichandran Ashwin came in as a fine off-spinner and Ravindra Jadeja made an entry as the ideal batting all-rounder. Few matches down the line, the roles have been unintentionally swapped and there is a strong case for a strategy rethinking to do for India to extract optimum talent. Abhijit Banare explains why it makes sense in considering Ashwin as the ideal batting all-rounder in ODIs and the other way round for Jadeja.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were in the thick of action in the tied third One-Day International (ODI) against New Zealand for their batting performances. The all-rounder’s slot has for long been a slot of identity crisis for India. With that slot being a vital aspect especially in limited overs format, India haven’t managed to work it out and have depended upon how the performances have unfolded. Ashwin has long been criticised for his dry run with wickets while Jadeja has been criticised for the lack of runs. Perhaps this issue could be dealt with if Ashwin is given more importance for his bowling and Jadeja more for his bowling. Following are some of the arguments on the same:
a) Ashwin has a stronger batting technique
The only thing you could dislike about Ashwin’s batting is that he walks out at No 8. But that way he goes about playing his innings is a delightful watch. The gracious flick with perfect timing fills the void of watching that famous VVS Laxman flick from outside the off-stump. And Ashwin is adept at facing a delivery which many of his fellow players have miserably failed to deal with — THE SHORT BALL! Ashwin has also looked extremely comfortable against the short ball rolling his wrists over it the way Dhoni does, and the best aspect about his batting is that he has plenty of time to play his shots even against the fastest of deliveries.
In comparison, Jadeja has been caught prodding at away going deliveries on many occasions. Jadeja can loft the ball at will and is a high-risk player. In comparison, Ashwin is a much stable batsman and one can rely on him occupying the crease and keep the runs coming in singles and twos. Though Jadeja has managed to score back-to-back half-centuries, Ashwin could still be a good option higher up the order, which they did use in the fourth ODI.
b) Jadeja’s pace and line are better than Ashwin’s finger variations
Ashwin is a finger spinner who relies on foxing the batsman with his turn, whereas Jadeja depends a lot on mixing the pace of his deliveries and luring the batsman submission. While both these strategies have been successful at home, Ashwin’s variations (especially the carrom ball) have been blunted overseas whereas Jadeja has continued to find success with his change of pace.
c) Jadeja isn’t perceived to be a wicket-taking bowler
Many opposition teams look forward to tackling Ashwin, who has been MS Dhoni‘s trump card in limited overs. On the other hand, it’s Jadeja who creates more wicket-taking opportunities by tying down the batsmen with his deliveries that are darted in and suffocate the batsmen. In contrast, the batsmen like to take their chances against Ashwin more than Jadeja. As mentioned earlier Jadeja who relies more on the pace than turn is much more effective on featherbeds where the wickets don’t offer much.
Here’s another distinguishing factor. Jadeja, who is time and again associated with three triple centuries when he comes out to bat, has a poor temperament. There have been a few situations where he has failed to play according to the situation, the most recent example being the second Test against South Africa where he was supposoed to hold the innings together and instead he chose to slog and get out early. In comparison, Ashwin is a workhorse when it comes to batting with an equally impressive defence. During the Kolkata Test against West Indies, Ashwin’s patience and technique had emerged successful under pressure. It is the team’s loss not using his abilities well in ODI cricket by not bringing him up the order.
Coming to the bowling, here Jadeja is on a higher ground than Ashwin. Once attacked at the start, Ashwin gets unsettled and his rhythm is spoilt whereas Jadeja has the ability to bowl consistently in the same areas.
Ashwin has always possessed a sound batting technique and it was just a matter of time it was used well by the team management whereas Jadeja can still be retained to finish the innings thanks to his aggressive style. It would be interesting to see how their roles unfold in the months ahead leading up to the world cup.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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