While the Indian bowling attack has been on a roll across formats in the last couple of seasons, the performance in the opening game against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup in Dubai on Sunday left a lot to be desired. Pakistan won by 10 wickets and that showed how the Indian bowling lacked bite to create an impact on the slowish Dubai pitch.
The Pakistan bowlers showed great adaptation skills as they picked seven Indian wickets. But for India, not just the pacers, even the spinners failed to rise to the challenge. The spin bowling duo of Varun Chakravarthy and Ravindra Jadeja bowled their complete quota of overs but failed to pick a wicket.
While Varun was slightly expensive and finished with figures of 0/33 from his four, Jadeja managed figures of 0/28 off his four. This after the two were preferred over R Ashwin for the big game. If the loss to Pakistan wasn’t bad enough, Pakistan going on to beat New Zealand has made Sunday’s game against the Kiwis a must-win encounter for Virat Kohli and boys.
The question is whether the Indian team management would look to fall back on its most experienced spinner in R Ashwin. While he last played an international T20 against the West Indies in 2017, Ashwin has been an integral part of the Delhi Capitals squad in the last two seasons and has enough idea about the wickets on offer in Dubai as the last two seasons saw a complete season being played in UAE in 2020 and half the season being played here in 2021.
Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar feels Virat Kohli needs spinners who can give him breakthroughs and just containing the batsmen won’t work. “India needs wicket taking spinners. Any spinner who bowls to get wickets and not obsess over the economy is my guy,” he told ANI.
In fact, Yuzvendra Chahal could have been the perfect answer to the pointer thrown forward by Manjrekar, but sadly he missed the bus for the T20 World Cup as the selectors believed Varun, Jadeja, Ashwin and Rahul Chahar are better options.
Interestingly, skipper Virat Kohli had mentioned during the pre-tournament captain’s call that Ashwin has what Manjrekar is looking for going into the big game against New Zealand.
“You have seen in the IPL over the last two years that he has bowled the difficult overs against the biggest hitters. He has not been shy to put the ball in the right areas, Ashwin has believed in his skillset. And we felt the way he was bowling with variations, he is a guy who has played a lot of international cricket.
“So, hence Ashwin has been rewarded for reviving his white-ball skills altogether. He was a regular feature for us back in the day but he fell off, finger spinners with accuracy have come back into the game. So we also need to evolve as a team,” Kohli had said.
It will be interesting to see if Ashwin is indeed back for his first game in almost four years in the international T20 arena come Sunday. He did have a long session at the nets on Wednesday as he first bowled and then had a hit as well. But assuming on the basis of training sessions isn’t something one should do when it comes to Indian cricket. (ANI)