Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin suggested that he was only trying to ascertain the advantage fellow practitioners get by wearing full-sleeves to mask an extension of the bowling arm while stretching the limits of what is deemed as a legal delivery.
During the Asia Cup last month, Ashwin — in full sleeves — had adopted an action similar to that of West Indian Sunil Narine. Weeks later, on the eve of the Super 10 game against Australia, inconsequential for the Men in Blue but potentially very crucial for George Bailey’s team, Ashwin was forthright about what made him change his action.
“I want to do something different. I want to keep trying something — unless you try you don’t go and venture and find out what can work or not. I’d never bowled in full-sleeves before. So I wanted to see how it would feel. And I just wanted to see if you can get more revs on the ball if you can do a little bit with your elbow, as much as that is. That’s what it was all about. You can get a lot of advantage with these things — so why should I lag behind if someone else is getting a competitive edge?” asked Ashwin, when asked about why he had briefly changed his action.
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In the World T20 among the prominent off-spinners who bowl while wearing full sleeves are Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal and West Indian Narine. Incidentally, during the Asia Cup in 2012, the Indians had lodged an unofficial complaint with match officials about Ajmal’s action.
Meanwhile, full-sleeves or not, Australia will have to bat out of their skins against Ashwin and his spin colleagues. Bailey and Co have struggled badly against the spinners and, therefore, find themselves only with the slimmest of hopes of making the semifinal.
For all practical purposes, they may be out of it even before a ball is bowled in the evening game on Sunday — that is, should Pakistan expectedly win against Bangladesh in the afternoon. Even otherwise, Australia will have to beat India by a huge margin and hope for Pakistan to beat the West Indies to have the net run rate come into play.
India, on the contrary, will be relaxed as they have already made the last four. But they will still have a minor dilemma. They have the luxury to experiment against a strong Australian side that have been competitive during the defeats to Pakistan and West Indies. Alternatively, Dhoni can chose to go in with the same side that played in the three wins so far, with the hope that continuity would help extend their winning run.
Changes need not be restricted to only personnel. Rather the batting order could be shuffled with the intention of giving the lower-order a hit. “It’s only Jadeja and Ashwin who haven’t got to bat at all. All we can do is to give them the priority in the next matches, send them up the order,” Dhoni said on Friday.
The Indian batting has also not been tested as the side has won the toss in each of the three Super 10 games and after electing to field restricted the opposition to modest totals. The good form of the bowlers, more so the spinners, has given the Indian batsmen the luxury to get their eye in before chasing down of relatively small targets.
Dhoni has also been trying different options when it comes to bowling in the death. Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra have been used in the final over. Against Australia it may well be a fourth different bowler who is handed the unenviable task. Perhaps Ashwin. Without the full-sleeves.