New Zealand v India, 4th ODI, Hamilton January 27, 2014

Ashwin in 'best frame of mind' despite wickets dearth


'Tie could be the turnaround for us' - Ashwin

When he bowled Corey Anderson in Auckland, it was the first wicket R Ashwin had taken for close to 80 overs. The previous one had come seven weeks earlier, on December 8, when he dismissed Quinton de Kock in the second ODI against South Africa in Durban. Thereafter, he had gone wicketless in the Centurion ODI, the Johannesburg Test and in Napier and Hamilton on the current tour of New Zealand.

It was not as if he was being taken apart each time he went without a wicket, but such a run can easily play on your mind. But Ashwin said he was in the "best frame of mind" and was not thinking too much about the lack of wickets. He had been dropped in favour of Ravindra Jadeja for the Durban Test after his failure to break through in Johannesburg, and said he had learned a lot from that tour.

"Honestly I was not reading or looking into anything," Ashwin said. "This is probably the best frame of mind I have been in. I have locked away a few things. I had a tour of South Africa which was quite a learning curve for me. I have decided if I am giving my best that is all I can do. I cannot go back reading articles and what people are saying about me. It does not make sense. I just locked myself out. I spoke to Dhoni about a couple of things, to the coach, had chats with a few people I trust. I thought things were going alright. It can happen, you cannot keep taking wickets or making runs all the time. The frame of mind I was in helped me perform the way I did."

Ashwin said he was feeling satisfied with the way he was bowling and had worked out how he had to go about the job away from home. "I have sorted out what length and what kind of bowling needs to be done. There are certain ways you need to construct a spell abroad. I have learnt that and put that into practice."

The new fielding restrictions have made it harder for bowlers in general. With lesser help available for spinners in overseas conditions, Ashwin said it had become difficult to look for wickets even if the batsmen were playing their shots and taking risks. "That particular thing falls out of the window with the current scenario. If there is spin and you are playing with the conditions helping you, then of course there is an opportunity to look to get a wicket but if it is stacked against you then you are fighting against something which is like a wall. You cannot box against a wall. You cannot fight against the conditions and go head on and take it on.

"You definitely tend to be targeted as a spinner away from home. With the five-fielder [within the circle] rule you can only look to give a single. You cannot err on lengths. The batsman knows if you have your sweeper up you are not going to err on the shorter side so you are giving away some cues to the batsman in terms of what field you are setting, and you cannot be foolish enough to try and fool the batsman. They are going to look for boundaries. You have to be really smart and try and make sure you do what the team requires. It is easy to say wickets are not coming so I will look for wickets, but you end up giving 20-30 runs extra and you have to get it back at the end of the day."

Before the Auckland game, Dhoni had said one also had to look at what stage of the innings India were making Ashwin bowl. "I am using him in the Powerplay, in the slog after the 40th over also. You have to see all these things," Dhoni said. "If you keep saying he is not getting wickets, then that will put pressure on him and in turn what may happen is he will be bowling the 42nd or 43rd over and look for a wicket and it may add another 6-10 runs. I am quite happy with how he has been bowling. If I try to use him upfront, he will be slightly less expensive. As of now both spinners are doing their job quite well. Looking at the conditions, I am practically judging them."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 28, 2014, 8:13 GMT

    I don't know why there is change made on the top order when the series is almost lost. There was no need to change the top order. It was good to drop Raina today. But he should have been dropped long back. In my opinion he shouldn't have been picked for the tour. When you have picked someone like Stuart, use him properly. Just giving him 1 over and stopping him was not a good captaincy. I am sure he will never get chance again to play for India just because of 1 expensive over he bowled in his entire international cricketing career. Sad. But this is how our selection process works

  • Dummy4 on January 28, 2014, 6:37 GMT

    Ashwin is a very confident and brilliant cricketer. We all could feel this when we heard him addressing the parents of a group of young players of an academy in Chennai, much before he became an Indian player. He is a path breaker and hence finds new paths, has been finding new ways like carrom ball, leg spin, ..etc. He is a good leader and has been among winning lot of trophies. He ll start getting wkts soon.Good luck Ash.

  • ESPN on January 28, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    Now what happened Rimpi? Everybody just likes to give opinions. El capitano knows Dhawan has been failing due to his mistakes, which is not the case with Rohit. Correct decision

  • joseph on January 28, 2014, 5:16 GMT

    Surprise that Dhawan get dropped, and Raina's place is now open for selection May be the WC top7 can be like Dhawan, RSharma, Gambir, Kohli, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Jadeja

  • Dummy4 on January 28, 2014, 1:29 GMT

    Y drop dhawan?? Drop rohit . Since Kohli gone India 170/10 kiwis win 173/2

  • ESPN on January 28, 2014, 1:29 GMT

    India should play with one spinner only in the oversea tours as wickets are not spin friendly. Ashwin if you want to be successful stop playing IPL But money money ?


  • Street on January 28, 2014, 0:47 GMT

    @ Gurdit Singh Well arent those two were the only series he has performed well since 2008? Just like you say there is Dhawan to play aggressively, there are better batsman waiting to take Rohit Sharma's place.

  • Jo on January 28, 2014, 0:46 GMT

    Containing mean under 5 rpo in the NZ matches. Taking wickets can happen during stringent run containment, especially with NZ. I dont see that was successful consistently. I understand the rule, but as a captain, if the spinners are not suitable during the fielding restriction, he has to use other options. It is not new to start the bowling with spinners and switch mode. Problem for India is, the fielding uint is not fit enough for the overs during fielding restriction with pace attack. thats where NZ cashed in. Why dont team India focus on sharpenning their fielding efforts?

  • Dummy4 on January 28, 2014, 0:16 GMT

    @ Chetan Asher on (January 27, 2014, 18:46 GMT) @ yoohoo on (January 27, 2014, 18:00 GMT)

    I agree with both of you. Chetan's comments about our close-in fielding brigade took me back to those days. Yes, I could visualise Solkar's feats. Even today, it gives me thrills, just to remember. Budhi Kunderan was another. He was not only a good wicket keeper & batsman, but could also field , in any position within the inner circle, with distinction. There were a few more, like Ashar in slips (sorry, he came in much later). Let me not name names; my memories are little clouded with age.

    Yooho's point on fielding restrictions are also extremely valid.

    All the other points mentioned by both of you are right, and I stand corrected. You two also proved that a counterpoint can be made, with dignity, and respect. And, with facts; not opinionated views. In these days. it is hard to find these qualities, while responding to others. Thanks.

  • Venkat on January 27, 2014, 23:13 GMT

    No spinner is going to get wickets without the support of his captain. Dhoni's tactics when Ashwin and Jadeja bowl is quite obvious. The five mandatory men in the ring, the four allowed out. Sweeper, deep midwicket, deep square leg, long off or long on. Keep bowling to the field, so the damage is limited to a single. Period...

    In recent times, I have NEVER seen a slip, or a close-in catcher employed. All the fielders in the ring seem to start at the ring, rather than trying to stay in close to prevent a single. How is a spinner expected to take wickets with this field ?

    Ashwin is a little different from the likes of Jadeja and co. He bowls significantly slower through the air most times, and relies on bounce as much as he does on spin. He will always be ineffective when bowling to a field such as the one that Dhoni employs to him.

    For such an intelligent bowler, he does not seem to realize that he is destroying his career slowly by bowling to this field.

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