Ashwin's wicket tally since 2011 World Cup next only to Malinga and Ajmal

Ravichandran Ashwin “¦the most dependable bowler in the side © Getty Images

By Karthik Parimal

 

India’s performance in its first match of the Asia Cup against a very familiar rival, Sri Lanka, was almost flawless. Things that went awry on the tour of Australia appeared to effortlessly fall into place for the Indians, primarily because of the fact the subcontinent conditions provide a much lesser degree of challenge to them. Nevertheless, nothing must be taken away from the Indian players for the effort they put in. Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli were exemplary with the bat whereas Irfan Pathan and Vinay Kumar made inroads into the Sri Lankan batting whenever needed. However, one bowler whose performance almost went unnoticed despite playing a significant role in the outcome of the match was Ravichandran Ashwin.

 

The game appeared to be rapidly slipping away from India at one point of time. The Sri Lankan middle-order looked solid and was all set to capitalise on the scintillating start provided by their skipper Mahela Jayawardene. Whenever the signs became ominous in the past, Mahendra Singh Dhoni usually relied on the expertise of Zaheer Khan to guide India out of troubled waters. In his absence, it was time for someone else to put their hand up and take responsibility. Fortunately for India, Ashwin obliged; like he has often done in the past. He struck thrice, thereby eliminating the Sri Lankan middle-order that featured match-winners like Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne.

 

It is heart-warming to see Ashwin try hard on the field and exceed the expectations of many during recent times. His performances have silenced the doubting Thomases who felt that India would struggle in the spin department, and that they would find it difficult to fill the void created by Harbhajan Singh’s exit. Although it is too early to compare Ashwin to Harbhajan, the former is undoubtedly headed in the right direction. His variety has flummoxed many batsmen, and considering the fact that his efficiency escalates on spin-friendly tracks, he is a valuable asset to the side.

 

Ashwin has played 33 One-Day Internationals (ODI) so far. Although the wickets column reflect that he has been a thorn in the flesh of the English batsmen, he is most efficient when he plays Sri Lanka. In the six matches he played against them, Ashwin has picked 12 wickets at an average of 21.08 and an economy of 4.28. The figures under the average and economy column against Sri Lanka are slightly better when compared to his figures against other nations. 

Below are the statistics:

 

Against

M

Runs conceded

Wts

Best

Avg

Economy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

England

10

353

16

3/28

22.06

4.69

Sri Lanka

6

253

12

3/32

21.08

4.28

New Zealand

5

241

11

3/24

21.90

5.12

West Indies

7

326

7

2/41

46.57

4.65

Australia

5

226

3

2/52

75.33

5.38


In such a short time, Ashwin has proved that he belongs on the big stage. He is India’s highest wicket-taker since the 2011 World Cup, and is only behind Lasith Malinga and Saeed Ajmal overall. It is true that he is yet to prove himself as an efficient performer in unfamiliar territory, but the potential is certainly there. He has been India’s most bankable bowler during recent times.

 

Overall bowling performances since the 2011 World Cup in ODIs:

 

Bowler

M

Runs conceded

Wkts

Best

Avg

Economy

SL Mainga

31

1452

58

5/28

25.03

5.37

S Ajmal

23

764

48

5/43

18.63

3.80

R Ashwin

24

981

31

3/28

31.64

4.73

S Afridi

19

751

30

5/23

25.03

4.51

R Jadeja

21

913

27

4/33

33.81

5.13

 

Ashwin has proved his credentials in all forms of the game and shattered the myth that he was only a T20 material. He has proved to be a handful with his variations and is now the skipper’s most dependable bowler in the side. He isn’t afraid to lure the batsman by tossing the ball up, and that is one characteristic he can be proud of. Unlike a few other spinners, he doesn’t get defensive the moment he concedes some runs. That explains why he tastes more success comparatively.

 

At the conclusion of the match, skipper Dhoni showered appreciation on his players. “It is difficult to bowl second on this ground. The outfield was really fast and the ball was coming onto the bat pretty well. So bowlers had to be at their best when bowling second. Credit to Praveen Kumar that he came back well in the second spell and was nicely supported by Irfan and Vinay.” However, Dhoni forgot to mention the man who turned things around for India with figures of 9-0-39-3. Ashwin’s performance deserved praise.

 

In the absence of Zaheer Khan, India’s chances of succeeding with the ball depends heavily on Ashwin. It could augur well for the team if he continues to dish out match-winning performances on Bangladesh’s spin-friendly wickets.

 

(If cricket is a religion and has many devotees, Karthik Parimal would be a primary worshipper. This 23 year old graduate student, pursuing his Masters in Engineering, could be an appropriate example of how the layers of what inspires, motivates and keeps one happy run deeply in our daily lives. He, unlike others, is not too disappointed about not making it big by playing for the country, but believes that he plays the sport every day with his heart by watching and writing on it)