The Indian cricket team has found themselves in a new quandary that who will exactly play the role of their primary spinners with Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav failing to strike the surface in a more vehement fashion. After the departure of their most successful spinning duo of Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble, the onus shifted to the shoulders of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Despite the former proving himself to be an exceptional spinner in the longest format of the game, Jadeja stuttered and blew hot and cold in the oncoming years. However, finally, after a decennium of rigorous ferreting, it seems that India has managed to strike the perfect spinning combination to represent India overseas.
With the Test World Championship finale looming in the foreseeable future and India being touted as one of the likeliest contenders to feature in the finale against the formidable Australia, they will need two reliable spinners who can bring the hurt to a rallying Australian cricket team.
Now, why exactly are Jadeja and Ashwin the perfect duo to feature in the SENA countries? There are a few reasons which we can contemplate. However, if we narrow down on the reasons, we will be finding three prominent ones to brood about.
This story will focus on those three reasons that make Jadeja and Ashwin the perfect spinning pair away from home.
- Bowling average
Test cricket is altogether a different ball game and the number of overs needed for a bowler to strategize the use of his primary weapons hasn’t got a limit on them. That is exactly why bowlers like Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc who have struggled in the shortest format of the game are deemed as the most lethal fast bowlers in the longest format.
Hence, a bowling average of 20 to 30 which is considered to be devastating in the shorter versions of the game is labelled as a fine figure to corroborate your brilliance in the eldest sibling of the other cricketing brilliance.
The last time two spinners came close to the hallowed benchmark of 30 in Test cricket was Anil Kumble who bowled a notch lesser than 30 while Harbhajan averaged at 32. Ashwin’s career average currently reads an astonishing 25.53 while Jadeja’s bowling figures are even more impressive at 24.32. Now coming to the average in SENA countries, Ashwin has once again struck gold as his numbers read 29.02 since 2018, while Jadeja’s are equally sublime, counting at 26.26 since the last two years. Now with such fine bowling averages where the duo scalps a wicket almost every five overs, it is an undivided opinion that they rule the roost in India’s long line of spinning prodigies who are still to claw the surface.
- Handy batting
Despite Kumble and Harbhajan chipping in with crucial batting in the end, the heroics were limited, barring the brilliant century from Kumble in England and a gutsy 115 from Bhajji. However, there was one less thing to worry about at that point in time as the Indian cricket team used to boast of the fine batting order, teeming with the likes of Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Dinesh Karthik or MS Dhoni. This gave the spinning duo of Kumble and Harbhajan to use their batting as a luxury.
The current Indian batting line-up is bedecked with only five proper batsmen which also keeps on rotating with the mounting list of injuries. Hence, the number 6 and 7 position of the batting order is occupied by Ashwin and Jadeja who aren’t insane hitters of the ball and the least likely to hammer a century in England, but they hold a decent batting average which rivals the figures of established batters.
Ashwin’s batting average reads 27.71 which stars four centuries and eleven half-centuries. Jadeja’s batting average reads 36.18 which features a solitary century and fifteen half-centuries. Despite not being miracle-bringers, those crucial 100 to 130 odd runs which this duo can add in the sixth and the seventh stand respectively commands a lot of respect and helps India to propel themselves out of an imminent quagmire.
It was Jadeja’s fine batting in the first innings of the Melbourne Test that helped India to turn the game back on its head against a formidable Australia while a heroic five-hour stand from Ashwin despite being injured in the second innings at Sydney alongside Hanuma Vihari helped India clinch a remarkable draw in what is being termed as one of the best Test matches in the history of the cricket’s longest format.
With the expertise that these two cricketers have managed to garner over their glittering span in Indian cricket, they aren’t just isolated cogs any more. They are a salient part of the cricketing canon and their towering presence in the field makes them the perfect leadership material.
Now in case if Kohli or Rohit Sharma gets sidelined with an injury, Ajinkya Rahane will always have someone to fall back upon and when these reliable bulwarks of the team are also efficient all-rounders, it makes life a lot easy for the skipper.
In order to make this an interesting mix, Ashwin and Jadeja are two contrasting characters on the field. Ashwin is a reticent fellow who adheres to the gentleman’s behaviour on the pitch barring a few rare occasions of mankading cricketers. Jadeja, on the contrary, is a flamboyant moniker who loves to celebrate his centuries by flailing the bat like a sword, a traditional celebration used by the Maratha warriors after claiming victory in a battle. With these two coming together, Test cricket outside India will not only be a bunch of five grave days of the battle between the willow and the leather, but it will have ample ingredients for a comical recipe.