Whenever a team travels to Australia, the bulk of the news is about the bouncy pitches and the pacers. The off-field trash talks also make it to the news. India’s tour to Australia is no exception.
With everyone talking about Indian pacers and Mitchell Johnson, the Indian spinners have taken a back seat. In India’s 18-man squad, R Ashwin, R Jadeja and Karn Sharma are the three spinners. With Ashwin already having the experience of playing in Australia in 2012, the two others are on their first tour Down Under. Though spinners don’t play the role they do back home, but their contribution to the attack is of utmost importance. A look at the very fresh Indian spin attack:
Variation:Ashwin is a confident bowler who backs his ability. While he uses his off-spinners to a great effect, the carom ball also brings him a lot of wickets. Many would argue that it is more effective in shorter format of the game but Ashwin is never reluctant to use it in Tests, especially when he comes around the wicket.
Experience: While the other two spinners will be new to the Australian conditions, Ashwin does have the experience of playing there in 2012. The previous tour was a disaster for him with just nine wickets from three matches at an average of 62. Now that he knows the conditions, he will be more prepared and raring to go. Not to forget Ashwin – the batsman. He has played some crucial knocks in the past and also has two Test centuries to his name. Even in England, he played two brilliant innings in Manchester. Australia should be no different.
Defensive approach: There is something Aswhin and Harbhajan Singh have in common. If they get wickets early in their spell, they are very different bowlers and could win you the game single-handedly. But if they fail to get early wickets, they turn defensive. Ashwin loses his sharpness and tries varying his line length and pace rather than giving the ball some flight, which backfires. He will set defensive fields and that is when he fails to prove his worth.
There is no doubt Ashwin loves challenges. His rivalry with Glenn Maxwell is also not hidden. But Ashwin should not get carried away. He should stay focused and take responsibility as the leader of the attack as far as the spin department is concerned.
Consistency: Jadeja is just 12 Test old and has 45 wickets to his name. Out of those 45 wickets, 44 percent have been either bowled or LBW. This shows how consistently Jadeja sticks to that middle-leg line. Jadeja tormented the Australians when they were in India in 2013, taking 24 wickets at an average of 17.45. But Indian conditions are very different. On his first tour to Australia, Jadeja may find everything new but he will surely be consistent with his line and length and slip in the odd arm bowl which has given him most of his wickets.
No Experimentation: At times, especially during long spells, Jadeja becomes a tad predictable. He sticks to that middle-leg line and gives enough scoring opportunities. It is only when he varies, even if slightly, his line that he is among the wickets. It is never a bad option to keep pushing on the stumps and then toss one around the off-stump. Expecting a mistimed drive.
The young leg-spinner has shown a lot of promise in the limited overs cricket but his exploits in Tests are yet to be seen. It is highly-doubtful that he will get a game on this tour but if he does, it will be interesting to see how he bowls to the hard-hitting Australians on the big grounds. It will surely be a great learning experience for him and if the opportunity comes he should grab it with both hands.