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Ravichandran Ashwin’s shocking average of 379 since December 2013 shows his continued struggle overseas

Ravichandran Ashwin's variations which have worked well in home conditions have been a futile exercise overseas © Getty Images
Ravichandran Ashwin’s variations which have worked well in home conditions have been a futile exercise overseas © Getty Images

Ravichandran Ashwin has struggled to pick wickets since December 2013. Nishad Pai Vaidya finds more on Ashwin’s struggle overseas.

 

As India slipped to their fourth overseas defeat in One-Day Internationals (ODI) since December, the bowling came under scrutiny again. The inability of the bowling attack to restrict the flow of runs is worrying; even on South African surfaces that offered some help, they failed to do the job. As discussed in a previous article, only Mohammed Shami averages under 40 in India’s last 13 ODIs (Home and away included). That does tell you the real story, but what about a bowler who has led the way since the 2011 World Cup? India’s agonizing struggle has coincided with a drastic drop in his form.

In the aftermath of Harbhajan Singh’s axing from the ODI squad, Ravichandran Ashwin has been India’s leading spinner. His carom ball and other variations mixed with the conventional off-breaks were handful and then that success spilled into Test cricket as well. However, in his last six international games (Tests and ODIs combined), Ashwin’s statistics have been appalling. Here is a list of bowlers with the worst averages since the beginning of December 2013:

M

W

Ave

SR

Ravichandran Ashwin

6

1

379.00

528.0

Rahat Ali

2

2

146.00

304.5

Shannon Gabriel

2

2

125.00

174.0

Umesh Yadav

2

1

102.00

90.0

An average of 379 spread over six international games is shocking. One of those games was a Test match, so he has bowled in seven innings. His strike-rate of 528.0 is also shocking and by far the worst. The next worst average is 230 notches lesser that Ashwin’s mark and even the strike-rate is way off. One can see the gulf in averages and how much Ashwin has struggled.

It isn’t that Ashwin hasn’t had his bad patches in the past. In Australia, on the tour in 2011-12, Ashwin had a tough time in the Tests as he picked only nine wickets in three games at an average of 62.77. In the following one-day series, he averaged around 40s. Then, when England arrived on Indian shores in 2012, Ashwin had a tough time as he tried too many things and the tourists played him quite well. In that series, he averaged in the 50s. But, 379? That certainly is a very drastic drop in performance from someone on whom India bank on to get wickets.

Why has this happened? Is it because India are playing overseas and that the wickets do not help his kind. However, earlier this year, Ashwin did well during the ICC Champions Trophy and that does tell you that he can do well. Perhaps his unconventional deliveries are not very helpful on the surfaces in South Africa or New Zealand, which is why he is struggling to come to terms. Nevertheless, it is an alarming phenomenon for the Indian team and they would hope he bounces back soon. He is an intelligent cricketer, who applies himself and surely would have thought about his problems.

At the same time, there may be a temptation to play Amit Mishra, the crafty leg-spinner who has been on the bench since the Champions Trophy. His only major outing came during the tour to Zimbabwe and he did his reputation no harm by taking 18 wickets. During the series against Australia, he played one game and was hammered. Yet, one can only judge him if he is given an extended run against the major sides. Ashwin may be given a break to work on a few things till them as he is an important part of India’s 2015 World Cup plans.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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