India news March 29, 2014

Pace variations working for Ashwin


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'Why should I lag behind in the advantage' - Ashwin

India's spinners have been among the standout performers of the World T20, helping their side become the first to make the semi-finals by setting up three successive victories over Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh. While Amit Mishra has dismissed most batsmen for his team, R Ashwin has been harder to score off, his three wickets coming at an economy-rate of 5.16.

Not too long ago, Ashwin had a return of two wickets in nine matches in South Africa and New Zealand. Back in more helpful conditions in the subcontinent, he had a good Asia Cup during which he took nine wickets from four games at an economy-rate of 4.21.

After the semi-final spot was sealed with the win over Bangladesh, MS Dhoni said India's spinners had prospered in conditions which had given them some purchase. There has been decent turn and some bounce, but it is not that they have just had to pitch the ball and let the surface do the rest. While the dew has not been as copious as it has been in Chittagong, it has been a factor, Ashwin said. What has worked for the Indians is that they have varied their speeds, according to the offspinner.

"It's a bit of variation in pace more than anything else," Ashwin said. "That's what I've been looking to do - vary the length and vary the pace. You slow it down, you can get a bit of purchase. There were a few occasions when I slowed it down and the ball actually spun the other way (against Bangladesh). So I don't know what it is. The wicket is quite slow. You can't say it's been gripping. Obviously a leggie bowling over the top and slowing it down will give some revs on any wicket. That is one advantage but if you're prepared to slow it down and take pace off the ball, you're in with a chance here.

"There's been a conscious effort to vary the pace, not just slow it down. I've been bowling at different paces - 100kmph to 80 to 75. That's what I've been looking at, and trying to use the crease much more - whatever cues I took from the Asia Cup."

Tossing it up slowly and tempting batsmen has worked wonders for Mishra in the tournament , making him one of India's "potent forces", Ashwin said. "As a combination, every bowling unit benefits from each other's success and bowling strengths. Amit has been one of our potent forces in this tournament. We've been using him in all the situations where they actually have to go for it. He doesn't give you a lot of pace so when the batsmen are going after him, it's a big chance. Because he's going to slow it down even more."

Ashwin himself has often been used by Dhoni at the start as well as the closing stages of an innings, both times where batsmen are looking to get after bowlers. When asked how his approach changed on both occasions, Ashwin said that at the death, a bowler needed to "swallow his ego" so that he could restrict the batsmen.

"When you're starting off, you look to bowl as many good balls as possible in the areas you want. The disadvantage with that is that a good ball can be hit for four with less amount of risk because of the fielders not being on the fence. Whereas in the death, you have to be - this is my take on it, not that this is how it has to be - swallowing your ego and trying to make sure you're not giving runs away. Because there are people around who want to pick wickets at that time. For me, it's about swallowing your ego and making sure you've done the situation bit pretty well."

At the start of the Bangladesh innings, Ashwin did toss it up liberally, and picked up two wickets in two balls, his return of 4-0-15-2 making him the Man of the Match. Ashwin said such recognition did increase a bowler's confidence, the same way it did for a batsman. "For a batter who has not got runs for five-six games to actually get runs and get a man-of-the-match award - it's going to really boost his confidence. It's the same for a bowler. Unless you appraise the bowler with something like that you'll never find good bowlers coming through. That is one thing I really believe in. As much as a batsman is important, a bowler's confidence is also important. In that regard, yes, it's a big boost. But I've been living with it for the last three-four years, so I'm used to it right now."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jay on March 30, 2014, 18:25 GMT

    @STRIKETHUNDER: I hope you saw what the Indian spinners were made of. It was the Aussies who got a reality check hahahaha.

  • Dummy4 on March 30, 2014, 17:40 GMT

    He is still india's most talented player alongside kohli. Have some faith he'll get better. Helpful conditions or not, getting to 100 test wickets in such a short period is something that has not been done since before the World Wars. Once he fully realizes his potential he will be known as one of the greats of the game.

  • Dummy4 on March 30, 2014, 15:58 GMT

    Guys , Ashwin picks up his 3rd wicket today against OZ. so now what you say guys. !!!!

  • WARRIOR on March 30, 2014, 13:31 GMT

    Today India's so called spinners will get a reality check.

  • Sandun on March 30, 2014, 13:13 GMT

    Ashwin is very poor bowler..but he is lucky...

  • Senthil on March 30, 2014, 13:00 GMT

    Only in India, Arm chair critics advice the professional cricket players about their basic things as if the Players have never played before and they got in to the team by a lot.

    Also 3 articles on Ashwin in 1 day? What's wrong with CI?

    Ashwin is a bowler doing the job of what Captain expected from him, If he asks bowl the attacking line, he will do it and go for defensive he is going to be defensive. He can't go against his captain and as per our advice. He is bowling the line and length which they would have discussed even before the match starts and he won't correcting it during a match.

  • sam on March 30, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    Harbhajan Singh the best spinner in the world ?? Don't insult him please.... We all like him, he is a decent bowler played for the country... leave him alone.

  • sam on March 30, 2014, 0:37 GMT

    Ashwin is 1 trick pony at best.Not more than a slow/medium bowler in places like say, Aus.Binny will be much better opt. as he can atleast bat a bit.

  • sam on March 30, 2014, 0:16 GMT

    Dont think so.He had chance to bowl 1st in all games.With amount of dew bowling last his pace variations would hardly matter as its slippery,it will just come straight onto bat.Wont matter bowling to Watto/Warner though-100k or 70k,will end up in stands.

  • Dummy4 on March 29, 2014, 23:57 GMT

    I wonder why everyone loves to hate Rohit so much, even in an article that has got nothing to do with him. He has got consecutive match-winning fifties and is in good form and people like Presynaras are still making comments like "Ashwin can contribute with the bat far more than Rohit"

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