R. Ashwin is certainly one of the greatest bowlers to play the Game of Cricket. The success which he has achieved till now, will be very tough for any upcoming spinner to match with.
“I don’t complain about pitches, nor do I depend on them. A lot of times we play on green tops in county cricket. You adapt. I have been criticised too. Some say I try too many things. For me, if it gives me an extra opportunity to get a wicket, I will go for it”
Ever seen a spinner say this? This is Ashwin for you.
A year or two ago, he had crossed the 350 wickets barrier, and the no. of innings which he took, definitely is a legendary task. He is jointly the quickest to 350 Test Wickets, he’s already the quickest to reach 250 and 300 wickets. Therefore, justifying his wicket-taking ability is great.
Ashwin’s number in comparison to the Sri Lankan legend at this stage of career tells a remarkable story.
Being an off spinner, Ashwin is lethal against left handers, he has dismissed more than 200 left handers out of his 390+ wickets.
He has taken a whopping amount of 29 fifers, out of which 6 coming overseas, which places him at 7th for the most fifers, and in my opinion, he can surely come in Top 3 in the elite list of most fifers in Test Cricket history.
His tally of 82 wickets in 2016–17 is the best ever by any bowler in a season. Thus placing him and Jadeja jointly at the No.1 spot, which is the first instance of two spinners jointly bagging the No.1 spot. So at no surprise, it came as Ashwin won both ICC Test player of the year as well as ICC Cricketer of the year in 2016.
Remember the ball which he bowled to Amla which was claimed as the T20 Ball of the Century by Adam Gilchrist?
The way he bowls the carrom ball, is simply surreal, do you remember how many variations has he got in his armory?
- Classical off spinner (Side spinner)
- The Armed Ball (Straighter One)
- Carrom Ball
- Reverse Carrom Ball (Though he hasn’t bowled this delivery many times)
- Leg Spinner
If a finger spinner is having this amount of variations, it is very difficult for the batsman to play him.
Many people have criticised him for his performances in overseas conditions, but I feel his overseas performances are improving by leaps and bounds.
Since his debut in 2011 till June 1 2015, playing in overseas turf, he had a bowling average of 56.58 and a SR of 104.2 whereas after that playing in overseas conditions, he has an average of 24.52 and a SR of 52 which is absolutely exceptional.
Now you might say that overseas includes spin friendly tracks of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, so it’s easy to perform there.
Then specifically talking of outside Asia, since Jun 2015, he has an bowling average of 27.65 and a SR of 63 which are still some very good stats, isn’t it?
While his success in the subcontinent speaks volumes, we’ll discuss his tours outside Asia, and discuss his performances there. (In Tests specifically)
His journey in Australia
Yes, I agree that he didn’t perform well in Australia in his starting tours, but everyone knows that it is very difficult for spinners to do well in Australia, except Mushtaq Ahmed who averaged 34 in Australia, most of the visiting spinners haven’t been much successful in Australia.
Ashwin first toured Australia in 2011-12, and returned with some below par performances and eventually, India wasn’t even able to win a single Test match down under.
In the 1st Test Match in MCG, he was decent returning with match performances of 4/141. Ashwin remained wicketless in the 2nd match in Sydney, despite bowling over 40 overs.
In the 3rd match, the then captain MS Dhoni decided to go with an all pace attack, and dropped Ashwin for R Vinay Kumar. In that match, Vinay was rather too expensive and hardly contributed something with the bat, so Ashwin was back to play the 4th Test in Adelaide and there picked 5 wickets in the match.
And then fast forward to 2014-15 tour to Australia, the series of dropping him doesn’t seem to change.
He was dropped from the first match in 2014, and it’s not about just a match, it’s the confidence of a bowler which gets hampered, I wonder how Ashwin would’ve felt when a newcomer Karn Sharma was preferred over him down under. Karn proved way too expensive with the ball, and Ashwin was in the playing XI replacing him for the next 3 Tests.
In the 3 Tests he played down under, he picked 12 wickets averaging 49 with the ball, at a SR of 85.
Memorable BGT 2018-19
Comin to 2018-19 tour, again a tour to Australia, 1st Test match, Ashwin has a fantastic test match with 6 wickets in the match and returning with figures of 6/149.
Before the 2nd Test, Ashwin is injured, he has a left sided abdominal strain, and is ruled out of the series.
It was as unlucky for Ashwin as it could be.
The historic tour of Australia 2020-21
In this series, Ashwin was altogether in a different form. Odds were heavily stacked in favor of Aussies to win the series, but in this series India bounced back to win the series, after a huge batting collapse for just 36 runs in Adelaide in the 1st Test Match.
Specifically talkin’ about Ashwin, his battle with Steve Smith was the one to watch out for. In the 6 innings he bowled against him, 4 times Ash dismissed Smith.
In the first Test, Ashwin picked 5 wickets, another 5 in the second one, and 2 in the third one. Unfortunately he got injured and had to miss the iconic Gabba Test.
In this series, Ashwin picked 12 wickets in 3 Test matches, averaging 29 with the ball, at a SR of 67.
His Journey in England
Come back to the past, India tours England in July 2014.
Ashwin is ranked the 2nd best spinner in the World after Saeed Ajmal in Tests. But wait, the captains don’t view the rankings, do they?
MS Dhoni goes for Stuart Binny and Jadeja ahead of Ashwin for the first Test. They weren’t even able to pick a single wicket.
This match ended in a draw.
Next match, still no Ashwin. Binny and Jadeja collectively picked 3 wickets. (Btw Binny picked none)
India won the match by 95 runs, thanks to Rahane’s century and Ishant’s seven wicket haul.
Now it’s time for the 3rd Test match, since Binny has picked 0 wickets in the last 2 Test matches, MS has gone for Praveen Kumar instead of Stuart Binny.
Jadeja has picked 5 wickets whereas Praveen Kumar picked none.
England has won the Test match by 266 runs, courtesy- Bell and Ballance’s centuries and Anderson match winning 7 wicket haul.
Now it’s the 4 Test Match, and Ashwin is in for the match, and it’s a rare feat when you see Jadeja-Ashwin playing together outside Asia.
India are forced to follow on, while when England was batting, Ashwin wasn’t actually struggling, but he wasn’t able to pick a wicket in 14 overs.
And in batting, Ashwin was the highest scorer with a brisk 40 scoring 46*(56).
As a result, England won the match by an innings and 54 runs.
The Final Test arrives.
Again some similar things were there in the 5th Test, like the 4th Test.
Indian batsman again failed collectively except MSD who scored 82 runs in the first innings.
Again we were forced to follow on.
This time, Ashwin picked 3 wickets, and Binny was picked in the side instead of Jadeja, but he failed to pick up a wicket.
In this tour, Ashwin picked up a total of 3 wickets in 2 innings at an average of 34 and a SR of 71 which is kind of decent.
He was impressive with the bat, he scored 106 runs at an average of 35 and a SR of 85.
Journey in South Africa
First time Ashwin toured South Africa was in December 2013.
It was a two match series.
First match, India had opted to bat, and at the end, scored 280 runs thanks to a century by Virat and a handy 47 by Rahane.
When South Africa came to bat, there top order was looking in good touch but Indian pacers dismantled the whole batting order.
Except Philander in the lower middle order, and Smith in the top order, no one didn’t even score 40 runs. Due to the fact that Ashwin only bowled 6 overs, he went wicketless.
India came to bat, and this time along with Kohli, Pujara also scored huge runs, and India scored a huge 421 runs, and ensured that they in no way can now lose the match.
When SA, came to bat, they had huge pressure, they weren’t able to win the match but they at least drew the match.
While Shami picked 3 wickets, Zaheer, Ishant picked 1 each. Ashwin went wicketless again.
Again this time, it wasn’t somewhat like they’re dominating Ashwin, they weren’t able to score much runs against him, he had an economy of 2.31.
The scores show that the match ended in a draw, in my opinion India lost the match by 3 wickets, because India was well within a position to win the match, and in this innings definitely the blame is to be there on Ashwin, as he wasn’t able to pick wickets.
And now it’s the 2nd Test, and Ashwin is now dropped.
So, this series ended for Ashwin with 0 wickets in 42 overs with an economy of 2.57.
And with the bat, Ashwin scored runs at an average of 18 and SR of 72.
Second tour for Ashwin was in 2018.
So, it’s the first match of the series.
SA have scored 286 runs on challenging conditions and Ashwin was impressive in his bowling.
He just bowled 7 overs, and picked 2 wickets.
Now it’s India’s chance to bat, and Hardik has done some exceptional batting to score 93 off 95 balls. India got all out for 209 runs. So SA has a lead of 77 runs.
In the second innings for SA to bat, SA didn’t score much runs, but scored runs which were more than enough to beat India. They scored 130 runs in the second innings. So the target for India is 207 runs. Ashwin got to bowl just 1 over so wasn’t successful in taking wickets.
Batting in the 4th innings is never easy, India’s batsmen failed collectively and were able to score just 135 runs and eventually lost by 72 runs.
This match, in my opinion Ashwin did well .
Now it’s the second match of the series,
SA have won the toss and chose to bat.
They were batting well, the opening partnership was good, till Ashwin dismissed both of the openers. Later, he also dismissed de Kock and Morkel and SA are bundled out for 335.
With Kohli scoring a 150, Vijay scoring 40 odd runs and an handy 38 from Ashwin, India has scored 307 in the 2nd innings.
Now it’s SA’s chance to bat.
They’ve scored 258 runs in this innings with Ashwin picking just one wicket.
Now the target is of 287 runs for the 4th innings.
Indian batsmen failed collectively except Rohit who scored 47(74) and Shami playing a cameo at the end scoring 28(24).
India lost by 135 runs.
Now it’s the time for 3rd Test.
And in this Test Ashwin is DROPPED! He is replaced by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, which means India have gone with 5 pacers.
So it’s the end of the series for Ashwin and in this series he has an batting average of 22.5 and a SR of 62.5.
And a bowling average of 30.7 and a SR of 65.5 which is a GOOD performance.
Journey in New Zealand
First tour for Ashwin in NZ was in 2014 for a two match series, but he just warmed the bench in whole series. Jadeja was preferred over him in the series.
Second tour for Ash was in 2020, for a two match series.
It’s the first match of series, NZ have opted to field first. India went in with a new opening pair, and again whole batting unit failed collectively except Mayank 34(84), Rahane 46(138) who showed some resistance and Shami 21(20) who played a cameo and India is bundled out on 165 runs.
Now it’s NZ’s turn to bat and they’ve batted pretty well scoring 348 runs with Ashwin picking the wickets of Henry Nicholls, de Grandhomme and Kyle Jamieson thus having a total of 3 wickets.
Now, India have to bat again, but they didn’t score well except Mayank who scored 58(99), though I feel they could’ve batted better as most of the batsmen got out after getting good starts. Prithvi played 30 balls, Mayank-99, Pujara-81, Kohli-43, Rahane-75, Rishabh-41 balls. India have been dismissed all out for a mere 191 runs.
So, the target for NZ is just 9 runs, and they have chased it pretty nicely and obviously Ash didn’t get to bowl this innings.
So, IMO Ashwin bowled pretty well in this match.
And it’s the second match in the series and Ashwin is dropped!
This series ended for Ash with a bowling average of 33 and SR of 58 which are quite good stats.
Now let’s discuss his limited overs career in detail.
Ashwin in ODIs
By looking at his ODI stats, it isn’t that illustrious as his Test career, and it’s just about decent with a bowling average of 33 and a batting average of 16. (With a SR of 87)
Though he had a big role in most of the ICC (ODI) tournaments he has played in:
2011 WC: bowling average: 23 economy-4.65
2013 CT- bowling average-22.63 economy- 4.41
2015 WC- bowling average- 25.38 economy-4.29
But he delivered poor performance in the Champions Trophy 2017 which resulted in his axing from the limited overs side.
His bowling average in CT 2017: 167 (Economy-5.76)
Though I feel that his axing was justified because he was in a poor form from a long time, we can divide Ashwin’s ODI career in two parts:
Ashwin’s batting avg: 16.84 SR: 86.67
Ashwin’s bowling avg: 31.27 Economy- 4.81
Wickets- 140 (4th highest wicket taker in this period)
2016- June 2017 Ashwin’s batting avg: 6.00 SR: 100
Ashwin’s bowling avg: 55.80 Economy- 5.93
I think I’ve pretty much summarised Ashwin’s ODI career.
Ashwin in Twenty 20 Internationals
Ashwin’s stats look pretty good considering the fact that his job was to bowl in the powerplay and to mainly restrict the run flow.
He has a T20I bowling average of 22.94 and economy of 6.98
He has a T20I batting average of 30.75 and SR of 106.96.
Let’s take a look at his performances against the Top tier teams specifically:
The best teams when Ashwin played were: NZ, SA, Pak, Australia.
And against these countries, Ashwin has a bowling average of 23.6, economy of 7.2 which are kinda good performances.
Ashwin has also performed well in the ICC T20 Tournaments.
2012 WC- avg-19 economy-6.00
2014 WC- avg-11.27 economy-5.35
2016 WC- avg-28.75 economy-7.67
Considering his good performances in T20I, and consistent FAILURES of other finger spinners in T20I, I feel Ashwin should be included in the T20I team for India.
Also Read: KXIP vs MI post match analysis
Indian Premier League
Ashwin is easily one of the best performing spinners in the IPL, he averages 26.27 with the ball with an excellent economy of 6.80.
In fact, his economy in the IPL, is the 2nd best after Sunil Narine, for bowlers who have bowled at least in 70 innings.
His best days in the IPL came when he was in the CSK playing under MS Dhoni. For CSK- he averages 24.22 with an excellent economy of 6.46.
Though he was the captain of KXIP, for 2018-19 seasons, he didn’t quite perform well neither individually, nor in captaincy. For KXIP- he averaged 32.40 with an economy of 7.67.
As a result, KXIP didn’t retain him for the 2020 season, and Delhi Capitals got him. Till now, he has performed well for them, he averages 23.13 with an economy of 7.12.
Though the sample size is too less, but still compared to Ashwin playing for other teams, he has the best bowling average for DC, best bowling SR for DC, and the 2nd best economy.