IPL 2016 April 10, 2016

'Ashwin has bailed me out in a lot of situations' - Dhoni

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Nannes: There was no need for Dhoni to bowl Ashwin

R Ashwin has now bowled only five overs in his last three Twenty20 matches. These are the kind of numbers that spawn social media memes and conspiracy theories. Ashwin seemed annoyed as well by questions on the dew denying him his full quota in the World T20 semi-final against West Indies. Questions are being raised as to whether MS Dhoni still sees Ashwin as a potent weapon.

Dhoni, for his part, has reiterated that Ashwin is still his go-to man, who can "do well at any time".

"As I have said, Ashwin has bailed me out in a lot of situations - whether bowling in the first six or in the slog phase," Dhoni said at a promotional event in Mumbai. "It's a subject, like revealing strategy. Ashwin is a mature bowler. He can bowl at any point of time."

In the opening match of IPL 2016, the seamers of Rising Pune Supergiants were delighting in the comforts that the Wankhede pitch had on offer. There was generous bounce and the ball was darting around off the seam. Dhoni stood well behind but Ishant Sharma's bouncers were still torpedoing into his gloves. And then there was Mitchell Marsh providing the perfect contrast with his full and dipping late movement. Between them they had four wickets in the Powerplay.

When the quicker men were given time off, medium-pacer Rajat Bhatia slipped into the middle overs and got one to cut back into Kieron Pollard's pads for a first-ball wicket. Bhatia's stingy spell of 4-1-10-1 put Mumbai's innings on sedatives. Concurrently, though, there was second-guessing about when Ashwin would be introduced. He was at first slip during the Powerplay, catching Jos Buttler's outside edge, but there wasn't much else required of him.

When spin was introduced for the first time in the 11th over, it was the legspinner M Ashwin, on IPL debut, who was given the ball. At the end of that first over, which produced a wicket, R Ashwin, who himself had been bowling a number of legbreaks at practice, walked up to his namesake and Tamil Nadu team-mate, possibly to offer feedback on his first over. The mini-meetings between the Ashwins happened after almost every over the young legspinner bowled.

When R Ashwin was finally introduced in the 16th over it was clear he was going to go another game without completing his quota. His first ball was short and Rayudu, who had nurdled his way to 22 off 26 balls, shaped to pull the ball in front of square. But, his shot went fast and low to Faf du Plessis at short mid-wicket, making R Ashwin the fourth bower in the evening to take a wicket with his first delivery. He bowled five more balls for seven runs, but he wouldn't get another over. M Ashwin bowled the 17th over, and Mitchell Marsh, RP Singh and Ishant were tasked with bowling the last three overs.

While it would be hard to fault the decision given the seam bowlers had done everything asked of them, it opened up a debate on R Ashwin's role in the side. Dhoni had said in January that R Ashwin was a "great asset" across formats, and that he was his failsafe when the fast bowlers didn't do well.

Dhoni also pointed out the importance of giving M Ashwin a decent run in a low-pressure situation, which prevented R Ashwin from getting more of a bowl. "It was a very good platform for legspinner Ashwin to come in. Since you watched the game, you would have seen he is not someone who bowls a lot of short deliveries, but he was feeling the pressure," he said.

"I thought it was more important for me to give him those four overs as, in the longer run, I need him as a wicket-taking option, and I felt at that point of time if I can give him the four overs it will give him the confidence to come back probably in the second and third game.

"It was a process of giving him confidence, but at the same time we were attacking from the other end. Rajat Bhatia was bowling well using the conditions, that was the reason. [R] Ashwin bowled one over and after that I thought going with fast bowlers was a better option [in the end overs]."

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • andymu8521185 on April 13, 2016, 11:48 GMT

    I do not think there is any rift between Ashwin and Msd relationship .Ashwin is an intelligent and mature cricketer to understand the thing why he was not bowled full quota in few matches .R.Bhatai was bowling wonderful spell and it was not a pressure situation so he want to use his leg spinner at that time . I personally belief he wants to give confidence to M.Ashwin that he belongs to this stage . He knows Pune Supergiants will required both Ashwin to perfrom well in tensed matches . The only thing I do not like about Msd captiancy is the selecion of playing X1 . He always stick to same team even the players look out of shock . S.Dhawan S.Raina and few more player has got more then enough chances due to this. Last season of Ipl he did not gave a single match to Irfan Pathan and Baba Apr ajith . Rigidity to stick to same playing X1 is one of the mistake i found in his captainancy .

  • kayan on April 12, 2016, 20:08 GMT

    MSD is not as good as he was, both as a player and captain, and so is judgement on Ashwin. MSD, of late, has become a seeker of luck as well. This seeking recently resulted in Bumrah and Nehra for India. Now he tried the same with the new Ashwin and he once found that M Ashwin is doign gud, he really used him well and there is no denying in that. It clearly shows he, of late, is a very good resource manager than a resource finder. If he lets the findings to the appropriate ppl, surely he would regain the glory both in ODIs and T20s.

  • a on April 12, 2016, 15:40 GMT

    Although it may appear to be a mish-Mash of leg-spin and pace, lets not be Rash in criticizing Dhoni's strategy. I'm sure it'll eventually be a Win-Win for both the spinners.

  • Krishna on April 12, 2016, 10:01 GMT

    Enter dew. Enter Right hander. Enter overseas. Exit Ashwin. That is precisely what's happening to Ashwin. There's nothing going on between MS and Ash! Ashwin is a good spinner of the ball on turning tracks. But he is definitely not World class! He's actually improved overseas.. but no wickets to show for (more of a container)! I'd rate someone like Lyon better than Ash overseas. So people need to understand that Ashwin can't always perform and he has his shortcomings!

  • ilamuhil on April 12, 2016, 8:13 GMT

    Ashwin is the best spinner. Best all rounder in Test matches. Having best management skill. Best thinker in hard situation.Clever bowler. Intelligent person. Good spoken english skill. Many commentators used "clever and intelligent" word more times at the time of Aswin bowling. If you take engineering subject, There is cause and effect diagram. To analyse the root causes for the bad or good effects. Google it as fishbone diagram. You will find easily the causes for the effect.

  • ilamuhil on April 12, 2016, 8:03 GMT

    I accept many people comments. Ashwin is not used properly by MSD for the past few months. Think about Irfan pathan. What happened to Irfan? Why irfan is not getting opportunity? Is there any best T20 allrounder otherthan irfan in India? Anybody have answer for irfan's less opportunity in IPL2015 and continuing in 2016 ? If so, please..

  • Mustafa on April 12, 2016, 7:21 GMT

    Ashwin might have bailed you out but you have certainly jailed Harsha,Irfan,Gautam and many more.

  • Krishen on April 12, 2016, 7:03 GMT

    There is no merit in the arguments being made by some against MSD the best ever captain in all forms of cricket in history of the game. Cricket is a multi-dimensional sport where match outcomes are determined by collective batting/bowling/fielding performances. MSD's captaincy is in a way similar to DL Method, based on match situation awareness & therefore difficult for some to comprehend. In the match v MI, with early bagful of wickets by pacers, it was time for MSD to test M Ashwin ahead of tougher challenges that left some confused. Ashwin is a proven performer for IND in all forms of cricket & in IPL. SF match v WI had slipped out of IND's grasp while batting by the end of 2nd wicket partnership at 128 for 2(15.3 overs). A swift partnership of 64 in 4.3 overs runs between talented Kohli & MSD was too little too late. IND finished 20-30 runs short of a strong total. The dew & missed chances due to 2 no-balls (+free hits ) & fielding errors made the run chase easier for WI.

  • mchlma9080267 on April 11, 2016, 21:20 GMT

    To be honest. MSD may claim that he used his off spinner less, to give confidence to the leg spinner. But, he definitely knew, that he is breaking confidence of the off spinner. Also, MSD doesn't have a good relationship with Ashwin. Starting from the catch dropped on Bangladesh game in T20, he bowled less of his quota. Also, remember that, MSD said that the only disappointment in T20 loss is the 2 no balls. Out of which, one was bowled by Ashwin. Remember, the latest interview of Ashwin, as he said that he is unaware of MSD's comments on dew, which affects spinners. Because, there is definitely a big debate or arguements would be going around the team, on which department is cause for the results. Definitely, I'd pressume MSD would complaint on No balls and Ashwin's statement would be, where is my full quota and then write off me. That difference in opinion would be the matter. But, apart from it, the position Ashwin is now in team India is only because of MSD's confidence on him.

  • Taha on April 11, 2016, 17:16 GMT

    This is only & only our World Cup to loose and we lost it.

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