By Kaushik Narayanan
Many great spinners from the subcontinent have struggled to reciprocate their performances when they travel abroad. The obvious reason behind this is–the lack of assistance when they travel outside.
Ravichandran Ashwin, who made a brilliant start to his international career, is not only struggling miserably outside the subcontinent. His shocking average of 379 since December 2013 shows his continued struggle overseas. On the other hand, Ravindra Jadeja has emerged out as a better bowler, as he keeps thing simple, and is well aware of his strengths and weaknesses.
Now, the question that arises is– “who should be India’s frontline spinner away from home?”
Ashwin has been India’s frontline spinner and his stats show that he has been a consistent performer, while playing at home. But, as we try to looking into stats away from home, it clearly shows that he hasn’t justified his role of ‘frontline spinner.’ Ashwin’s biggest criticism has been– “he tries a bit too much.” It is true that Ashwin tries too many things in the middle and this has led to his downfall. He comes across as someone who isn’t aware of his own strengths and weaknesses.
He thrives in dust-bowls wherein the variable bounce and spin helps him to make the opposition to come to their knees. But outside subcontinent, his off spinners can be neatly negotiated, and bad balls can be put away with ease. His wrist position has gone from bad to worse and he has lost some yards of pace too. The only thing that is going in favour of Ashwin is, his captain’s faith in his abilities.
Jadeja came into the picture as a T20 bowler, who used to bowl a flat wicket-to-wicket line. Jadeja’s turning point as a bowler came in the home series against Australia, where he made his Test debut. In that 5-match series, Jadeja took 27 wickets, following it with a 6 wicket haul at Durban, in the last series against South Africa. As a bowler, Jadeja knows his limitations. He is not the greatest turner of the ball, but he’s very consistent when it comes to bowling good lengths. Also, he has a quicker arm ball up in his sleeve, which he disguises quite well. On the top of that, his ability to ball long spells ( he bowled about 60 overs in the first innings against South Africa in Durban) is a definite plus for a captain, especially in the overseas conditions.
The selection conundrum
Ashwin has failed time and again to perform outside the sub continent. He has been quite expensive, making it difficult for the faster bowlers to operate and apply pressure on the batsmen.
On the basis of recent performances, Ravindra Jadeja is a better option for the role of front line spinner, both home and away. Ravichandran Ashwin is clearly struggling and he should be dropped so that he can think about his game and work on his basics.
Dhoni’s resistance with Ashwin is baffling as it is not doing any good to him, and more importantly Team India.