England v India, Champions Trophy final, Edgbaston

Ashwin seals place as India's go-to spinner

R Ashwin's performance with the ball in the Champions Trophy final cemented his reputation as a frontline spinner for India

Nagraj Gollapudi

June 24, 2013

Comments: 42 | Text size: A | A

R Ashwin is congratulated after a wicket, India v Pakistan, Champions Trophy, Group B, Edgbaston, June 15, 2013
R Ashwin teased the England batsmen with guile, spin, flight and length © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Ravichandran Ashwin
Series/Tournaments: ICC Champions Trophy
Teams: England | India

His first winning contribution came through a brilliant catch at first slip which saw the departure of Alastair Cook. R Ashwin is not one of the best fielders in the Indian team. Yet, on Sunday evening, he stole a stunning catch, with both hands, to his right, as Cook edged a seaming away delivery from Umesh Yadav. It was the first of the three catches Ashwin would take in the England innings. As important as those moments were, Ashwin's biggest impression on India's Champions Trophy success came with the ball in hand.

Ashwin had been Dhoni's go-to man in the past two years and even before that in the IPL. Both men understand each other well and trust each other's instincts. Before the final, Ashwin had been consistent but there was a danger of a little predictability, with teams trying to play out his overs. But on a turning pitch, with good bounce, Ashwin's four overs were going to be a ring of fire for England. Dhoni's challenge, meanwhile, was to manoeuvre Ashwin's overs smartly.

He was brought in to bowl the sixth over. Jonathan Trott, England's best batsman in the tournament, had got off to a fluent start and was fast stitching a partnership with Ian Bell. Trott, at times, has the tendency to jump out of his crease early in his innings and Ashwin sensed he had an opening. On his second delivery, he pitched the ball on leg stump and the ball turned behind Trott's legs. But the batsman had erroneously advanced out of his crease to allow Dhoni an easy stumping. It was a telling blow and a big turning point.

The next one arrived exactly at the half-way stage. It was the 10th over. Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara were new to the crease. England were in danger of falling apart. It was important India dominate Morgan, one of the most dangerous batsman in limited-overs cricket, quickly. Dhoni got a slip and silly point. Ashwin made sure his line was off stump. His second ball pitched on length. Morgan went for the prod cautiously but could not read the turn as ball spun away on the bounce. It was the best ball of the over which finished as India's only maiden over. In those few minutes, Ashwin had tied down the Irish-born left-hander, who did not show the courage to come out of his crease at all. Ashwin's figures read 3-1-6-2. England were 46 for 4.

Even as Morgan and Bopara regrouped, and steadily brought England back into the contest, the Ashwin threat loomed. By the time Ashwin was brought back, in the final over of the innings, Morgan and Bopara had departed. England needed 15 runs. Ashwin's job had been made simpler by his co-spinner Jadeja, who had confidently taken the ball from Dhoni to deliver an accurate and disciplined penultimate over, giving away just four runs.

As Stuart Broad prepared to face him, and as the full house at Edgbaston slid to the edge of their seats, Ashwin compounded the tension with his Magic Johnson-esque pose mid-air before delivering the first ball. An anxious Broad went for the shot and was beaten square by the turn.

Operating with a square leg inside, Ashwin faltered the next ball, an easy low full toss, which Broad used his long arms to easily sweep for a four. Virat Kohli pleaded Dhoni to get the deep midwicket inside the ring and push the cover back. Dhoni remained stubborn. Quickly Ashwin resorted to his original line on the off stump. It was now the batsmen's choice to step out and hit over the circle. The offspinner's range of deliveries, including the doosra and the leg break, made them uncertain. And perhaps that is why the two left-handers at the crease failed to take advantage when Ashwin bowled two short balls that spun away on pitching.

On the eve of the final, Dhoni had joked if he could have the option of having "two No.1 spinners" since he reckoned both Ashwin and Jadeja were equally good spinners, adding pressure on the other to perform. On Sunday, Ashwin proved why he deserved that tag, successfully teasing England with guile, spin, flight, length, line and aggression to seal India's title win.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by vivekk83 on (June 25, 2013, 4:54 GMT)

Ashwin is a practitioner of classical off spin bowling. Offspin bowlers are of many types given that there is Ajmal,Hafeez, Naraine who tend to bowl quicker. Ashwin is more like the swann, viru who bowls it conventionally but is open to experirments. He is just 2 years in the circuit and he will get better with experience.Now to the comments on the last over. I think it was a plan. He doesn't dart in like the other offies, with a leg stump line he could have been slogged by broad and the batsmen can play the lofted shot over cover if its fuller. By bowling a bit shorter and on outside the off, he eliminated the long-on, long off hits and the sweep. It was a guessing game with batsmen seldom play on the back foot to cream deliveries over covers, cover point in a last over situation as it harder to arc back and generate the power. He may have been lucky with one rank short ball but doesn't mean the over was lucky.. Well done Ash. you are doing well , hence the critics....

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 2:52 GMT)

@Gokul - relax man. I think the wicket of Morgan was actually planned - onside the mid wicket region was empty. Ishant bowled wide to make him reach for it, and at the same time took the pace of the ball, causing the batsman to lob it to midwicket.

Posted by gnanzcupid on (June 25, 2013, 2:25 GMT)

This may be the end of the road for harbhajan. A decent show in ipl alone does not make him a good bowler. There are many young off spinners who are better than bhaji. He must bowl well in ranji trophy and show the world know if he has anything more left in him. Ashwin is definitely india's best offie now.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2013, 0:40 GMT)

I think Ishant Sharma did a terrible job except that the England players did worse. Dhoni was lucky that his strategy of Ishant bowling overs 15 and 17 did not cost us the cup. One thinks Dhoni is lucky. It was obvious to any cricket fan the better option would have been to go with spin, Raina, Ashwin and Jadeja. This would have covered overs from 15 to 19. It would perhaps not matter at all who bowled over 20 because of the runs required in that over.

Posted by rick333 on (June 24, 2013, 23:30 GMT)

@simpleton: a fitting screen name..you seem to have no knowledge of the nuances of the game. The author has clrealy illustrated the key moments of the match and how Ashwin had turned those pivotal moments in India's favour. You say the last over is rubbish and sheer luck and all...Does it occur to you that Indian team analysts, bowlers would have analyzed down to their 11th batsman and may be have figured out that those 5 balls is the way to tie down that particular batsmen. Dont forget it is the same lad who ties down the mighty Chris Gayle in IPL. I suggest you learn the nuances of the cricket through such articles rather than taking a critical view point about something that you are not expert of

Posted by whippingBails on (June 24, 2013, 20:47 GMT)

The Author forgot to mention two critical catches Aswin took off the bowling of Ishant Sharma. Both Morgan and Bopara were well set and were taking England home. Luckily for Ashwin both catches came his way and he made no mistake. Morgan adn Bopara were gone and India was back in the game. So three critical catches were indeed priceless from Aswhin. It is indeed true.. catches do win matches.

Posted by Raginggbull on (June 24, 2013, 20:30 GMT)

@Gokul Kenath : Your statement may induce dry smiles. Am OK with bopara throwed. But everyone know Ishant bowled a deceptive slow ball to get Morgan. Please give credit where its due.

Posted by   on (June 24, 2013, 20:29 GMT)

@simpleton - bowling the right deliveries to right batsman is what is required off a bowler. you're being completely preposterous in saying that any other batsman would have played it well

Posted by 3rd_umpire15 on (June 24, 2013, 20:24 GMT)

Ashwin was always potent on Indian wickets, but the CT has shown that the nerveless tweaker can be a handful even in "foreign" pitches. but his batting remains underutilised.

Posted by TRAM on (June 24, 2013, 18:16 GMT)

For bowlers to succeed we need courageous /aggressive / trusting captain AND most importantly good fielders.

Bedi,Chandra,Pras,Venkat got so many wickets because the batsmen were surrounded by the great Solkar, Wadekar(captain), Venkat, AbidAli plus the great keeper Farokh Engineer. And India made its first foreign win with them.

Compare the close-fielding lineup of India team when they lost 8-0 against Aus/Eng. = Sehwag,Dravid,SRT,VVS, etc (any one remember the catches dropped?). Dhoni was seen negative and non-courageous at that time. (with spinners not getting wickets)

Current India team has good fielders and the same Dhoni is seen courageous and winning the matches (with spinners getting wickets).

My point, its all in the fielding. Fielding win matches. Hope selectors are aware.

Posted by   on (June 24, 2013, 17:15 GMT)

before the champions trophy some people criticised ashwin as overrated. now where did they gone???

Posted by simpleton on (June 24, 2013, 16:50 GMT)

I don't agree with the author's view that Ashwin is emerging as a go-to spinner for the Indian team. Far from it. During that final over,his full toss to Broad gave hints on how nervous he was feeling.

What has happened is that some very fortuitous events in the last 3 overs has helped to gloss over serious shortcomings among India's premier bowlers.

First, let's admit, most of Ishant's wickets in the tournament were from non-wicket-taking deliveries. Morgan's and Bopara's wickets were due to pure luck.

And Ashwin, bowled 5 rubbish deliveries in the last over which a batsman better than Tredwell would have clobbed for six. Tredwell connected two shots and thankfully, they did not reach the boundary and he missed the last one, again, sheer luck for Dhoni.

Ashwin's last over show does not give confidence to Indian fans that he could be a reliable bowler in crunch situations. His performance is one more example that our bowling at death is now far dependent on luck than on skill.

Posted by   on (June 24, 2013, 16:08 GMT)

It is the quality ashwin developed to reinvent himself once in a while helped him a lot as he himself mentioned in an interview. Everytime when criticisms shoot up, he come back with a brilliant performance. His stats are also good. If this is a record (especially test record) by any other countrymen, they would have celebrated him like anything.

Posted by sensible-indian-fan on (June 24, 2013, 15:20 GMT)

Good article. I want to answer 2 points made by fellow commenters.

1. Ashwin was bowling a few short balls in the final over. The thing is that Ashwin is a classical spinner. He cannot bowl darts when needed. And classical spinners can get tonked for sixes if the batsmen connect. So bowling a bit short could have been a tactical move (I don't know, I am just saying). The first bowl which Broad got beaten was the PERFECT length to be bowled. Then he bowled a couple that might have been a bit too short. The final bowl to Tredwell was a good length one which bounced. Tredwell made it look like a short one by going back (check the videos).

2. Dhoni gave Jadeja the over bcos Jadeja is most likely to be more economical. Its more of a question of whose strategy suits the situation better. Sure, Jadeja's contribution yesterday was invaluable but without Ashwin's spell, there was no match to be saved.

3. I think going around the wicket had made Ashwin totally lethal.

Posted by   on (June 24, 2013, 15:05 GMT)

1992 World cup final. England are cruising against the modest target set by Pakistan. Two magic deliveries by Wasim Akram to Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis turns the match in favor of Pakistan.

2013 Champions Trophy final. England are cruising against the modest target set by India. Two pathetic deliveries by Ishant Sharma to Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara turns the match in favor of India.

Point to Note - It is not about the quality of bowlers or the quality of deliveries. Just that England are always England, when it comes to the finals of Global one-day finals.

Posted by   on (June 24, 2013, 14:35 GMT)

Contrary to what Mr, Golapudi is suggesting, I would think that if Ashwin was given over no, 19, then "he seals place as India's go-to spinner" would make sense. We all know that over 19th was most crucial when Eng. had to score 19 ove 2 overs. Had Jaded gave away 9 runs ( as Ashwin did in 20th over), surely game would have been England's to score about 10 or less in last over. Clearly Jadeja is go-to man as far as Indian team at present is concerned.

Posted by Naresh28 on (June 24, 2013, 14:13 GMT)

ASHWIN has become India's Anil Kumble. He uses his head and bowls well. In this game I liked the way Jadeja clean bowled Butler. Our recent success can attributed to these two great spinners. I think that India will continue to produce great spinners. The way Ashwin clean bowled Kulasekara of Sri Lanka in the other game was good to watch.

Posted by   on (June 24, 2013, 14:12 GMT)

He is really a player for longer run. He has got safe pair of hand at First Slip. His spin bowling is improved, just needs to have some patience. I just think he was feeling pressure in last over as he was just bowling Short Balls.

Posted by gtr800 on (June 24, 2013, 13:36 GMT)

On a slightly different note, I believe India need to look to the future of their Test Cricket in terms of captaincy. Although Dhoni is the best possible choice for any format of the game, with the stress he faces its only a matter of time he retires due to exhaustion (possibly after the world cup) or maybe a bit longer. One needs to either prolong his longevity by making keeping him the ODI captain, while passing the reigns of test captaincy to another cool, composed, thinking cricketer Ashwin. If Cook can do it successfully in tests then Ashwin is definitely capable.

Posted by gsingh7 on (June 24, 2013, 12:44 GMT)

ashwin is good for odis and t20 but for tests abroad we need better spinners. 8-0 losses in england and aus proves that ashwin was unable to take wickets in those tough conditions. ojha and rasool wud be a better bowling unit.

Posted by Cricwallahs on (June 24, 2013, 11:30 GMT)

Does his job perfectly,great watch to both spinners bowl in tandem.Has a lot of variations for ODI,T20.Bowls leg-breaks and carrom ball effectively to wrap up the tail-enders.After Laxman they have found a better replacement, Ashwin as a slip-catcher.Pulled off two stunning catches (Gayle and Cook).He has the greater potent to deceive the batsmen(flighted deliveries and pause action).Apart from England and Australia series,he has contributed match winning performances.

Century at Wankhade proves his batting ability,91* at Eden Gardens shows his temperament!! A great prospect for Indian cricket..

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (June 24, 2013, 11:25 GMT)

Ashwin is a good bowler in the shorter formats - ODI and T20. He should be saved for those. For test matches, we need a classic off-spinner like Parvez Rasool. His action and wicket talking prowess reminds us of Graeme Swann.

Posted by   on (June 24, 2013, 10:46 GMT)

@Dr.Navdeep Johar. For me Harbhajan was (a bit more than a) decent spinner. But one who got far too many opportunities and recognition beyond what he deserved, probably from Ganguly & Co's feudalistic, hero worship brand of leadership compared to the pragmatic, down to the earth and professional leadership by Dhoni (and briefly Dravid). Yes, he had his moments, but even then the attitude and arrogance was bordering despicable. As a total package Ashwin is way above him even at this early part of his career and represents every thing that so many feels right about this team, which seems to carry the ethos of Laxman, Dravid, Kumble, Kapil Dev, Mohinder Amarnath, ... who made us proud on and off the field. Just an observation from somebody who was a casual follower of Indian cricket for last 35 years.

Posted by   on (June 24, 2013, 10:45 GMT)

while Ashwin deserves every accolade that is coming his way in CT - as a test match bowler and against strong batting units such as SA and England, he needs to be more consistent - against England he had short pitched delivery almost every over hence never put pressure on the batsman of the quality of Cook, Trott and Pietersen. He needs to correct that - weaker batting units such as NZ, WI or Aus (never thought that day would come) - he will get away with...

Posted by   on (June 24, 2013, 10:35 GMT)

I agree with 'peterss' above; Ashwin should have been MOM. His prodigious turn clearly bamboozled English players. The stunning catch apart, the way he bowled his maiden over would be a remembered by many. To me, he has lately been seen as more accomplished as compared to Saeed Ajmal, whom, many teams have been able to read and take appropriate measures against.

It has been a well-deserved victory based on team effort, Ashwin outshining.

Posted by Kulaputra on (June 24, 2013, 9:57 GMT)

Ashwin and Jadeja have appointed a personal bowling coach is what we understand and the gentleman's name is ..... Rajnikanth

Posted by Abitha on (June 24, 2013, 9:49 GMT)

Well said. Ashwin with his variations and the Carrom Ball and Jadeja with his fast delivery and the one spinning away from the batsmen creates openings. Not only the Fast bowlers who hunt in Pairs here is the two Spinners Hunting in Pairs. Captaincy for Ashwin may not be a good idea once Dhoni hangs his boots. Virat is the right man though he is temperamental. Once given the job he will become one more Dhoni but not cool Dhoni Kashinath

Posted by   on (June 24, 2013, 9:45 GMT)

Ashwin not half as good as harbhajan. .in ipl he was poor but lobby of csk got him bhajji got more wkts and runs than ahwin

Posted by androyuvi on (June 24, 2013, 9:12 GMT)

If there were anyone in the England team to take them home on any day, it would been Trott or Root. Both are immensely talented, Right-handed, and plays spin better than their fellow mates. If not for those two wickets of Ashwin, it would have been a very difficult task for India to have won the match. And not forget his 3 match saving catches. Ashwin seems to be a team man, won't mind being un-noticed or left in the back drop. And he seems to have a cool head even after a big victory or a bad loss. Ashwin, at least, deserved an article about him. And here it is.

Posted by peterss on (June 24, 2013, 8:41 GMT)

Ashwin seemed to hav lost it for a while but the recent matches he has bowled beautiful offspin which harbhajan wasnt able to replicate in his last years. Ashwin needs to improve in keeping his variations to minimal and concentrate on offspin so that variants become a potent weapon. He should have been the MOM. Jadeja is just lucky i would reckon. He would run out of luck sometime.

Posted by   on (June 24, 2013, 8:31 GMT)

Ashwin has great brain and temperament and he speaks well, i think he should lead the team instead of Kohli in the future.

Posted by Lightsaber on (June 24, 2013, 8:04 GMT)

However,India should not remain complacent.....They should imprve their bench strength especially in fast bowling deparment ,in preparation for test format.Otherwise if somebody is injured they will be forced to go back to thezaheers,gambhirs,yuvrajs though I feel that India will be needing these players in near future......especially in test overseas

Posted by   on (June 24, 2013, 7:34 GMT)

Good show from all the team members, and looks like the ball was following Ashwin. He is clearly the weak link in the India fielding lineup, but how well did he show his skills with the catches! 90% of India who were cursing him for running slowly in the last over, when he ran himself out, would be praising him for the sharp catch he took of Cook, following it up with catches of Bopara and Morgan. Delivery to trott was clear that there were gears spinning in his head. The ploy clearly worked to India's favor.

Posted by Siva_Bala75 on (June 24, 2013, 5:24 GMT)

Each and every ball of Aswin's 24 balls was gold dust and Dhoni knows it. More importantly, dhoni knows how and when to use it. In fact both the semis and the final, Ashwin bowled the last over!

Posted by   on (June 24, 2013, 5:02 GMT)

Ashwin would most probably lead India after the world cup 2015.While Virat Kohli is being touted as the captain in waiting, his temper is not ideally suited, since it won't project a good image of the Indian team. Remember, these players are representing their countries. This should pip the captaincy in Ashwin's favour.

Posted by   on (June 24, 2013, 4:58 GMT)

Ashwin and Jadeja were critical to this win in the finals. Ashwin did a great job under maximum pressure in the last over of the match. Tredwell is no Miandad but who knows he may have scored a six off the last ball.. I also wondered why MSD did not bowl Umesh more instead of Ishant, though it turned out he removed Morgan and Bopara and vindicated himself..Umesh had better economy rate in this match and removed Cook early.. Though later MSD said he was saving Ashwin and Jadeja for the powerplay overs, I felt Ashwin should have bowled his quota out when he bowled that maiden mid-match..If Morgan and Bopara had not been allowed to settle in, who knows what might have happened..It might have been an easier win for India.. Bowling Raina and Ishant allowed Morgan and Bopara to stitch together a dangerous partnership... In regards to recognition, Jadeja gets more than Ashwin probably because Jadeja has an uncanny knack of taking wickets.....

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (June 24, 2013, 4:29 GMT)

I thought Ash bowled magnificently. It was mainly his spell along with Jadeja's that won India the game. I am sure Ash is a team man and won't mind spending time in the backdrop. This team is clearly showing that it plays for the nation as ONE unit. This was a tricky tournament and India have ACED it. Well done Ashwin.

Posted by kingkarthik on (June 24, 2013, 3:56 GMT)

As always, he will remain India's unsung hero. While the Kohli's and Jadeja's steal the limelight. Agreed that Kohli and Jadeja made massive contributions in winning the match yesterday. But the Indian were speaking as though only these two single- handedly won the match.

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India won by 5 runs
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India won by 8 wickets (with 90 balls remaining)
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