While there are several reasons why Team India have been inept to even stage a fight against a spirited New Zealand side, I feel that the Indian spin duo has let the team down badly.
The fast bowlers have had a torrid 18 months, and come under the hammer on far too many occasions during the mentioned period, but then India’s forte is it’s spinners and when they come good, the team does well more often than not.
So, if I had to pick a staunch reason for Team’s India’s miserable failure in the Kiwi land, it has to be Ashwin and Jadeja’s inadequacy to deliver wickets, let alone keeping the batsmen quiet.
Ashwin needs to get back to the drawing board, and analyse where things continue to go wrong for him. For me, he needs to understand the surface and conditions he’s bowling in.
For an off-spinner, my personal observation is that Ashwin is bowling far too straight and consequently getting picked away on the leg-side. He has to be an inch or two outside the batsman’s off-stump, and from there, if the batsman is good enough to drive him through the covers, then, so be it.
He suffered a similar syndrome in South Africa, where Quinton De Kock and Hashim Amla took a liking to him, and started dictating terms to Ashwin’s trade.
Ashwin has to somehow find a way out of this rut he finds himself in, because Team India and MS Dhoni desperately need wickets from him. Overseas conditions and pitches cannot be looked at as an excuse for Ashwin’s failure to produce wickets.
Coming to Jadeja, he has probably had an one-off series, where he has struggled to pick up wickets. But credit has to be given to Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson for the way they have handled Jadeja. Even Yesterday, Jadeja did start off well, and managed to spin the ball past Williamson on a couple of occasions, but Ross Taylor played him with utmost disdain and precision.
Taylor was willing to wait on the back foot, and employ playing the cut stroke to good effect. So, even if Jadeja was a fraction short, Taylor was able to cut him past backward point and short-third man. And even with Jadeja in this series, he hasn’t got the ball to spin enough to put the doubts on the batsman’s mind, which could have lead to him winning those key battles.
Why Ashwin and Jadeja have been Team India’s biggest culprits?
New Zealand sides of yesteryears and even today, run for cover whenever they have come up against two quality spinners, but in this series, they have made light work of Ashwin and Jadeja’s prowess.
During the early 2000s, when New Zealand used to visit Sharjah for a triangular series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, they would score 90-100 runs against pace bowling in the first 10-15 overs, but once the likes of Muttiah Muralidharan and Upul Chandana got introduced into the attack, their batting would crumble rather jokingly.
So, if you take that piece of story into account, I feel that Team India could have camouflaged their fast bowling ineptness through successful spin bowling figures, which might have balanced out things in the bowling department.