India vs England, 2nd ODI: Ravichandran Ashwin had a fantastic year in the longer format but very few people know that his last ODI wicket came on January 15 2016 against Australia.
He is the number one all-rounder in the world in Test cricket, the leader of your bowling attack, picked up 72 wickets in Test cricket in 2016 at a staggering average of 23.90, was the highest wicket-taker in the format for consecutively second year, was elected ICC’s Player of the year less than a month ago so what makes us think that he should be dropped by Virat Kohli for the second ODI against England at Cuttack? Simple, because this isn’t Test cricket we are talking about!
Ashwin had a fantastic year in the longer format but very few people know that his last ODI wicket came on January 15 2016 against Australia. So, its been more than 12 months since Ashwin got a wicket in ODI cricket. However, he played only 3 ODIs in this period including the first match against England.
But, clearly he is out of match practice and looked rusty in the first game too. There is another side to the story as well. While Ashwin gets spinning tracks in Test cricket, ODI wickets in India favour batsmen. Now, he is an aggressive bowler by nature but the pitches force him to maintain a defensive line in the shorter formats to stop the flow of runs which isn’t his natural instinct.
This is the same problem that Harbhajan Singh also faced towards the latter half of his career. Also, dew plays a crucial role in winters during Day-Night matches in India and makes it difficult for spinners to grip the ball. Despite bowling first in the first ODI, India ended up conceding 350 runs with Ashwin taken away for 63 from his 8 overs.
His figures can be worse if men in blue are asked to bat first in Cuttack. Keeping this in mind, team management can include Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the side in place of a spinner. Since, Ravindra Jajdeja hardly turns the ball and follows a flatter trajectory, he is always a better choice in these conditions, so its Ashwin who should make way for the fourth seamer.
If Virat Kohli wants to persist with two-spin attack, then including Amit Mishra may not be a bad option either. He was the highest wicket-taker against New Zealand with 15 scalps to his name and was also named man of the series. The leggie is naturally an attacking option too.
India has to play 5 Test matches in the next three months, one against Bangladesh and four against Australia and if Ashwin’s confidence takes a hit in the ongoing ODI series, it could be a major blow for Virat Kohli’s side. So, being a little protective with your main man should not harm anyone.