Ravichandran Ashwin has come good for India in the business end of the ICC World T20 2014 © AFP
Ravichandran Ashwin has come good for India in the business end of the ICC World T20 2014 © AFP

 

Ravichandran Ashwin has been India’s main spin bowler in the ICC World T20 2014. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about his performance.

 

It was Amit Mishra who started India off on a bright note in the ICC World T20 2014, but it is Ravichandran Ashwin who has peaked at the right time. The off-spinner has found his mojo as India entered the business end of the tournament and has been the best bowler for his side. In a tournament that saw the Indians restrict the opposition around 130 in most games, Ashwin has been their most consistent bowler, keeping a check on the flow of runs and taking wickets along the way.

 

The great thing is that MS Dhoni can use Ashwin anytime during the innings. He is effective with the new ball and can come and do the job with the old. During the ongoing World T20, he has done well to take the pace off the ball and unleash those variations. This has been his strategy with both the old and new ball. As the surface is slow, he uses it to good effect and makes the batsmen work for his runs.

 

In the semi-final against South Africa, his figures of three for 22 show how well he bowled when Mishra was taken apart for 36 in his three overs. Hashim Amla was foxed with one that turned the other way and AB de Villiers was done in by pace. Also, it was interesting to note that he came from over the wicket to the left-handed JP Duminy during his spell. Normally, Ashwin prefers the angle from round the wicket in T20 cricket and gets it to straighten after pitching in line. Here, he was trying something different as Duminy was kept quiet.

 

The spell against South Africa was easily his best in terms of its importance. Against Bangladesh and Australia, he did win the Man of the Match awards, but one game was inconsequential and the other wasn’t against the strongest opposition. But, there has been a common feature and that has been his penchant to keep the batsmen in check. That has built up the pressure and even made up for other bowlers who may have had a bad day in the office.

 

Now, Dhoni has to decide how to use him in the final. The Sri Lankans are by far the best players of spin amongst the teams India have faced in this tournament. By starting with Ashwin, he may want to keep Kusal Perera and Tillakaratne Dilshan quiet. But, then, his role in the middle overs would be crucial, a time when someone like an Angelo Mathews builds the innings and sets up the platform for a big score. Dhoni may well split his overs and ensure that he comes in at crucial times so that he can delivery with wickets.

 

Hashim Amla (left) was bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin (not in photo) with a carom ball © Getty Images
Hashim Amla (left) was bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin (not in photo) with a carom ball © Getty Images

 

During the pre-match press conference, Ashwin had said that the competition aside, it is his desire to improve that keeps him going. One must point out that the presence of Ravindra Jadeja and Mishra does help him. Perhaps, it only motivates him, or puts pressure on him. It is working for India in this tournament.

 

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