By Suhrid Barua
Ravichandran Ashwin has been a glorified tourist so far in the 2011, but with Piyush Chawla following up his disastrous final over against England with another poor showing against Ireland, the clamour to play Ashwin has been growing louder by the day.
Leggie Chawla has gone for 127 runs from his 18 overs in two games – his figures in the two games reading 10-0-71-2 vs England and 8-0-56-0 vs Ireland.
And the latest to raise his voice in favour of Ashwin is none other than Erapalli Prasanna, the legendary off-spinner who was part of the famous Indian spin quartet of the ‘70s.
Excerpts from an interview with Prasanna:
Q: Piyush Chawla has let us down in the two games he played so far. Do you think that India should bring in Ravichandran Ashwin in place of Chawla?
A: Yes, Chawla hasn’t bowled well in the two games. I think it’s in the best interests of the team to replace him with Ashwin. Playing against a weaker opposition against Netherlands would also allow Ashwin to get some confidence ahead of the bigger games.
Q; Do you think playing Ashwin would add an element of predictability about the spin attack?
A: When you have off-spinners playing, the ball at most times is going into the right hander and it’s becomes more of a stereotype spin attack. But then, we have no option but to try out Ashwin now that Chawla has failed to deliver.
Q: How do you assess the performance of the Indian frontline spinners?
A: While there’s no denying that Chawla hasn’t bowled well, the fact remains that even Harbhajan Singh also hasn’t made much of an impression in the first three games.
Q: In comparison, the part-time spinners, especially Yuvraj Singh, has hit good form. What’s your take?
A: Look, when regular spinners are bowling, batsmen tend to play them with a lot of caution, but when part-time spinners are in operation, batsmen tend to relax. And this where the chances of part-timers taking wickets increase. Having said that, I must admit that Yuvraj bowled really well against Ireland, scored a fine half-century and is looking very confident on the field.
Q: Do you think that India need to change their seaming bowling attack, maybe bring back Shanthakumaran Sreesanth or Ashish Nehra, if he is fit?
A: I don’t know. The team management would be in a better position to answer it.
Q: How do you rate India’s chances of winning the World Cup?
A: The World Cup is still in its early stages and we have only played three games. It’s too early to talk about whether we are going to win it or not.
(Suhrid Barua is a cricket buff who invariably gets pumped up before every India match)