Auckland: The last time Ravichandran Ashwin took wicket in an international game was in Durban on December 8, last year. That was just a little over a month ago. But, considering the speed at which Indian cricket’s juggernaut rolls on, it seems like a long time.
Since sending Quinton de Kock back to the pavilion at Kingsmead that day, the 27-year-old spinner has bowled 69.5 overs and conceded 277 runs.
And, in between, he also got his hands on the Polly Umrigar Trophy after being adjudged India’s best International Cricketer of the Year (2012- 13).
But, as far as the wickets column is concerned, the zero’s been unmoved.
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Any captain would have sleepless nights due to that performance. Or at least, will be reluctant to hand over the ball to such an out-of-form bowler.
But not Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
He has always believed in giving a long rope to players who lose their mojo. “It is also how we are using him,” says Dhoni.
“You have to see when he is bowling. I am using him in the Powerplay, in the slog after the 40th over also. You have to see all these things. If you keep saying he is not getting wickets, then that will put pressure on him and in turn what may happen is that he will be bowling the 42nd or 43rd over and look for a wicket and it may add another six-10 runs,” the skipper explains his ‘can’t-drop-Ashwin’ theory.
During the ongoing tour of New Zealand, Ashwin has bowled 18 overs and conceded 102 runs. True, there are not exactly spin-friendly tracks in this part of the world. But, the off-spinner has been unsuccessful in even containing runs.
“I am quite happy with how he (Ashwin) has been bowling. It is just that if I try to use him up front, he will be slightly less expensive. There are plenty of things you have to look into but as of now both spinners (the other one being Ravindra Jadeja) are doing their job quite well. Of course, looking at the conditions, I am practically judging them,” Dhoni says about Ashwin, also his Chennai Super Kings team-mate.
With Jadeja, more often than not, coming to Dhoni’s rescue over the last one year, the Indian captain has to think wisely and divide the roles and targets between him and Ashwin.
“If there is pressure on Jadeja, I try to use Ashwin because he has got a bit more variation. At the same time, putting more pressure on him will not be good because he is the one who thinks a bit more compared to Jadeja.”
But it seems that at least on this tour, Ashwin has left his thinking cap back home in Chennai. Let’s hope someone gets it back for him soon.
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