The much awaited Cricket World Cup 2015 begins in a day’s time in Australia and New Zealand. The nature of tracks which are expected to be used in the tournament has put the spotlight on teams like South Africa, Australia and New Zealand as tournament favourites, given their superior bowling line ups.
India on the other hand, despite being the defending champion, has been struggling to come to terms with the conditions in Australia for quite some time – and the recent string of not-so-good performances in the Tests and ODIs in Australia are a cause of concern.
Let us, in this article, focus on the two main Indian spinners who are expected to take the field in the all important tournament in the coming days.
A couple of years ago, Ashwin was the lead spinner in the Indian Test and ODI team, and none ever came close to matching his credentials in the side. Then, things just changed! And it was in December 2013, during India’s tour of South Africa that Ashwin was literally driven out of the team, and replaced by Ravindra Jadeja as the ‘new spinner’. The off spinner, however, found some kind of assurance after picking up 7 wickets in the 4 ODIs played in England last year.
Subsequently, Ashwin did find his place back in the team for the tour of Australia (Jadeja’s untimely injury influencing that to some extent!), and put in a few decent performances on not-so-helpful tracks.
Problem -> Clearly, this ‘in and out’ theory has damaged the credibility of Ashwin’s spin bowling to a severe extent, and a number of experts (the most vocal among them being former Indian spinner Bishen Signh Bedi) have repeatedly pointed out that Ashwin’s best performances in Tests and ODIs have come when he has been left to make his own decisions, and not unnecessarily been made to ‘innovate’ to suit the needs of the day.
Solution -> Even though time is at a premium now, the captain needs to repose full confidence on his best spinner and back him to deliver in all conditions. The example of Harbhajan Singh ought to inspire some confidence in Ashwin – for Bhajji had been India’s trump card even in places like England and South Africa for a number of years in the past.
Ravindra – How will Sir Jadeja fare at the World cup ?
Famous for being able to bowl with some serious control and sticking to a particular line, Jadeja has answered India’s prayers for an all rounder with some amount of success.
Problem -> The team management, in an effort to better utilize him, had started to consider him as a specialist spinner at least in home conditions and overseas tests, and consequently relegated the regular spinner Ashwin to a much inferior position. Perhaps people have overestimated his bowling abilities, and left aside the real issue of absence of ‘regular’ spinner in the side.
Solution -> As pointed out earlier, his injury has been most untimely indeed, for not only has it endangered his chances of playing in the Cricket World Cup 2015, it has also put significant pressure on a relatively unprepared Ashwin to deliver with the spinning ball.
The Indian team management, however, should notice the silver lining here – Jadeja’s absence has given them the chance to focus on ‘regular spin’ options and move away from the idea of turning an all rounder into the lead spinner of the team.
Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin can thus expect brighter prospects and more responsibility in the coming days, especially if Jadeja’s recovery is not speedy enough!