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Rediff.com  » Cricket » The world's greatest spinners have advice for Ashwin

The world's greatest spinners have advice for Ashwin

January 17, 2014 11:24 IST

Why Ashwin fails abroad

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Erapalli Prasanna and Bishan Singh Bedi, arguably the greatest off-spinner and left-arm spinner in cricket history, tell Rediff.com's Bikash Mohapatra why R Ashwin does not do well away from home.

When India plays at home, there is little doubt who is the best spinning option.

Since his debut against the West Indies in November 2011, Ravichandran Ashwin has taken 95 wickets in 15 Tests (Average: 24.13).

When the team travels abroad, the off-spinner's figures are appalling.

In four overseas Tests, the 27-year-old Chennai Supper Kings and Tamil Nadu spinner has just nine wickets (Average: 74.78). He failed to take a wicket in the only Test he played against South Africa last month.

So ineffective was he in the opening Test at the Wanderers, despite the wicket offering some assistance, the Indian team management led by his CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni did the unthinkable.

Ashwin was dropped for the second Test in Durban; his replacement Ravindra Jadeja finished with 6 for 138 runs.

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Image: Ravichandran Ashwin
Photographs: Getty Images

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Why Ashwin fails abroad

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So what makes Ashwin so dependable on Indian wickets and so disappointing abroad?

Erapalli Prasanna, whom Australian off-spinner Ashley Mallett believes is the greatest off-spinner of all time, believes Ashwin's haul of wickets in India, apart from his bowling on spinner-friendly tracks, has much to do with the quality of the opposition he played against.

"He is bowling well in India, but you have to understand that we have turning tracks here," Prasanna explained.

"Also, look at the quality of the opposition he has bowled to. New Zealand, the West Indies... not exactly known to play spin well," Prasanna felt, adding, "Even the Australian side that toured last year wasn't exactly a strong team."

"The only occasion he faced a good side (England) he failed to deliver."

Ashwin took 14 wickets in the four Tests (Average: 52.64) against England who scored a memorable series win in 2012.

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Image: R Ashwin, a tiger at home, a rabbit abroad.
Photographs: Getty Images

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Why Ashwin fails abroad

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Bishan Singh Bedi, the legendary left-arm spinner, put it down to lack of lengthy spells, thanks largely to batsman-friendly tracks that help the Indian batsmen pile on runs, and thereby suffocate the opposition.

"How many of them have bowled more than 500 overs in a season?" Bedi asked.

"The more they bowl, the better they will be. But because cricket has become a batsman's game, more so in India, bowling has become the victim," Bedi declared.

The Indian team that plays New Zealand this month includes both Ashwin and Jadeja.

Pragyan Ojha, the left-arm spinner, was mysteriously dropped without getting an opportunity to bowl in South Africa.

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Image: R Ashwin with Bishen Singh Bedi, the greatest left-arm spinner of all time.
Photographs: Getty Images

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Why Ashwin fails abroad

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Prasanna believes India's spinners need to share the workload with the seamers in New Zealand.

"In South Africa, the conditions were favourable for the spinners, but Ashwin failed to strike," he said. "Jadeja did well in the second Test, but he didn't have any support."

"In New Zealand, both Ashwin and Jadeja have to bowl well in tandem," Prasanna felt. "If the team opts for one spinner, Jadeja should make the cut."

"Bowling is clearly our weak link," said Bedi. "Our batsmen need to take up more responsibility."


Image: R Ashwin
Photographs: Getty Images

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