Ashwin – The story of resurgence from Ash
Written by: Bhawana Jarwal
Ravichandran Ashwin, the prolific right arm off break bowler also known as the Carrom ball specialist who has been part of India’s World Cup winning squad of 2011 and ICC Champions Trophy 2013 has played for India in a total of 84 tests with 430 wickets, 112 ODIs with 151 wickets and 51 T20Is with 61 wickets at an average of 24.38, 32.91 and 21.27 respectively. Being the highest ranked spinner in test cricket and highest ranked test bowler for India as per the ICC player rankings, he is considered as one of the best spin bowler of this generation.
The ICC cricketer of the year: 2016, made his first class debut for Tamil Nadu in 2006. He began his IPL career in 2010 following which he earned his maiden international call up in the limited overs format in June 2010. Ensuing his economical bowling spells he was called up to make his Test debut against West Indies in November 2011, wherein he became the first Indian since 1962 to take a five wicket haul and score a century on debut.
The IPL expedition
Ashwin was bought by Chennai Super Kings in 2010 when he came to limelight by delivering economical spells. Ashwin turned out to be efficacious of MS Dhoni’s masterstroke to bowl a spinner in the power play overs which then became a tactic to tone down the power play exploitations of batters and a trend as well. He has played IPL finals for CSK in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. He also performed captaincy duties for Kings XI Punjab in the year 2018 and 2019 when he was bought for an enormous amount of 7 crore rupees. With Ashwin’s experience Delhi Capitals reached IPL finals in the last season of 2021.
Axing from limited overs
Ashwin was a consistent performer in the tests and was backed by the then Indian captain – MSD. Despite being the fastest Indian bowler to reach the 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350 and 400 wicket mark in Test and constant backing in ODIs, Ashwin was axed from the limited overs team due to his inconsistent performances and dip in form, when Virat came at the helm in 2017. The Kul-Cha duo became the spin preference of India instead of Ashwin – Jadeja during those days, as the latter duo was dropped from ODI setup.
ODI and T20 comeback – The Resurgence
Ashwin had barren run in white ball cricket during IPL seasons 2018 and 2019 where Punjab failed to even qualify for the playoffs despite having brilliant first half. In January 2021, one of the Indian greats, Sunil Gavaskar believed that “Ashwin will not be able to make a comeback to white ball cricket for next half a dozen years” as Hardik Pandya and Jadeja were contending for no. 7 all-rounder spot.
Despite all odds, Ash worked on his bowling stride and developed his own wicket taking techniques using the variations and consequential to an impressive run in the IPL 2021, the senior off spinner made his T20 comeback in the T20 World Cup held in later stage on 2021.
Ashwin’s then placed himself on the radar of India’s new white ball think tank comprising of Captain Rohit Sharma and Coach Rahul Dravid on the back of his performance in the T20 World cup followed by 2 home T20Is against New Zealand. The variation specialist was then called up for the South Africa ODIs recently concluded in January, 2022. After playing his last T20 and ODI in 2017, making a comeback to both the formats can truly be construed as “Ash rose from the ashes”.
Ashwin shifted from being a medium pacer to an off spinner before his first class debut. Ashwin has essentially been a right arm off break spinner who often uses arm ball and carom ball as variations. The use of crease and angles has always been his forte. The off spinner has also bowled leg-break and googly as well on multiple occasions. Ashwin’s biggest variation has always been his thinking of the batter’s actions and its counters.
What does the future hold for Ashwin?
Ashwin recently played Test, ODI and T20 against Sri Lanka, South Africa and New Zealand respectively in 2021-22 which reflects that the all-rounder is part of Indian team’s future prospects in every format.
He holds the opportunity to take over Kapil Dev, Richard Hadley, Rangana Herath, Dale Steyn in records tally in test cricket in Mohali test against SL embarking from 4th March, 2022. The astute spinner has recently been bought by Rajasthan Royals in IPL Mega Auction 2022, which embarks him on a new journey of white ball league cricket.
Marnus Labuschagne in a recent interview with Cricbuzz, hailed Ashwin as a “tremendous thinker of the game” who consistently keeps on developing counters to get the batter out. We hope the resurgent avatar of Ashwin keeps on lifting his game perpetually to trouble the batters across the world.