Ravichandran Ashwin is perhaps the best living example of someone who learns from his mistakes. Not long ago, cricket experts from all around the globe criticized him for trying too much variations in his bowling and his inability to pick up wickets overseas.He was labeled as a defensive bowler who failed to pick up wickets for his team.Things have changed a lot in the last couple of months. Now he is the top wicket taker for India in the ongoing world cup.
The street smart kid from Chennai who is now the leading spinner for the Indian cricket team, drew his first inspiration from Ajantha Mendis’ carrom ball. He perfected the skill and used it in the IPL and domestic cricket to bamboozle the batsmen.
Having a few tricks up his sleeve like the carrom ball, the arm ball and good accuracy along with a sharp cricketing mind made Ashwin a quintessential limited-overs spinner and he was pretty handy with the bat too, scoring valuable runs down the order. He soon replaced Harbhajan Singh as the front line spinner for India.
He is one of those players who came into the limelight through the IPL and yet was good enough to cement his place in bigger forms of cricket. He had an inherent knack of picking up wickets that made him a vital cog for Chennai . He could bowl in the powerplay or at the death . He was the go-to man for Dhoni in times of trouble.
However, the batsmen got used to his variation in due course of time. His skills were put into question when he failed miserably in the overseas test matches where he didn’t get much help from the foreign tracks.
Prior to the World Cup Ashwin had gone back to the traditional off spin, giving the ball more air and bowling in a more conventional way. The change reaped results immediately, when he delivered a good bowling performance against Pakistan in Adelaide. He was accurate as always, but he wasn’t merely firing darts. He bowled with a lot of guile, got the bowl to loop and drift and dip in the air and got some serious turn as well. He had the Pakistani batsmen in all kinds of trouble as they couldn’t score against him. He may have picked up just one wicket, that of the left hander Harris Sohail with a classic off spinner’s dismissal, but he did the job that was assigned to him – containing the batsmen and stagnating the flow of runs from one end.
His hard work paid off in the second match against South Africa where he was the pick of the Indian bowlers, claiming three scalps. The track at the MCG was different from the one at Adelaide which was dry and assisted spinners. The wicket at Melbourne was a batting paradise but the duo of Ashwin and Jadeja made sure that they didn’t give away easy runs and picked up wickets at regular intervals as well. In that game also, what was pleasing to the eye was Ashwin’s composure. He was quite brisk between balls in walking back to his run-up and was ready to trot on the moment the batsman went into his stance, but he never appeared to be hurried or in a rush.
However, his best bowling performance was yet to come. In the match against the UAE at Perth, Ashwin registered his best bowling figures of 10-1-25-4 on a pitch that was supposed to assist the pacers. Again, he was at his clinical best, getting the ball to turn and bounce by giving it enough flight in the air. Except for Shaiman Anwar, almost all the other batsmen struggled against him and quite rightfully, he was adjudged the Man of the Match for his stellar performance.
Ashwin did not get a single game in the tri-series before the world cup. There were speculations that the skipper had lost confidence in him. As it turns out, Ashwin was not worried about the rumors, in fact he was sweating it out in the nets under the watchful eyes of Ravi Shastri, who himself was a capable spinner. He was being kept under the wraps for the upcoming mega event and the team management wanted to try out bowlers like Axar Patel and Stuart Binny in the tri-series.
It is evident from his performances that Ashwin has worked hard on his bowling action in the recent past and for India to have a successful world cup campaign it is of the utmost importance that he carries his excellent form throughout the tournament.