There has never been a question regarding Ashwin’s supremacy in bowling. He has been India’s first-choice spinner for years. Combining forces with Jaddu, Ashwin ran through the opposite team batting line ups be it whichever format. However, over the past few years, they were reserved only for tests to manage the workload better.
White ball spin combinations were centred around Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. Axar Patel, Shahbaz Nadeem, Rahul Chahar, and Washington Sundar made occasional appearances in different games. After the initial experiment, Jadeja’s performances in tests and franchise cricket made it difficult to keep him out of the white-ball teams.
He forced his way into the team. It seems like Ashwin has too forced his way back into the T20 squad. India’s squad for the T20 World Cup was announced and it features Ashwin. This has been a surprise for a few fans.
However, we look at the reasoning of the selectors and why Ashwin could be the trump card for India in the world cup.
1. Old experienced hand
Ashwin has played in the 2011 and 2015 ICC World Cups. He has also featured in 2012, 2014, and 2016 ICC T20 World Cups. He has been part of CSK for many years and captained Punjab for a couple of seasons recently. He has the required experience and the skill to ensure that he operates at his optimum during the world cup.
2. Expert in the conditions
The world cup was supposed to be played in India but has moved to the UAE on account of Covid-19. The pitches in UAE do differ much from India. They are spin-friendly, slow, and assist purchase for spinners. Noted sports journalist Boria Majumdar analyzed that the grounds are small and the pitches are dry in UAE and therefore, by the knockout rounds spinners would be vital for a team’s performance. Considering the conditions and Ashwin’s propensity to flourish in these situations, his selection could be a masterstroke.
3. Leader of the heard
Ashwin is an intelligent cricketer which is beyond doubt. He analyses the game better than most. His ability to strategize and deliver is well noted in CSK and as a leader in Punjab. The other spinner picked in the squad, barring Jaddu, lacks the requisite experience and big tournament experience. Ashwin can provide the relevant inputs to the youngsters and can work as a motivating factor.
4. Partnership with Mahi
Dhoni was announced as the mentor of the world cup team in addition to the existing coaching staff under Shastri. Dhoni and Ashwin have an envious partnership on and off the field. Ashwin has grown under the leadership of Dhoni and most of his cricketing smarts are borrowed from the ex-skipper. They have together won India multiples titled including the 2011 World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy. Dhoni has been instrumental in guiding bowlers from behind the stumps with his inputs which has resulted in Ashwin becoming a world-class spinner. With Dhoni coming back to mentor the team, Ashwin shall have an experienced ally.
5. An improved player
The game has become so competitive that merely being good in one department is not enough. Most of the bowlers can today bat a fair bit. It has become a necessary requirement. It is for this reason that Jaddu was preferred over Kuldeep and Chahal. Ashwin, from 5 years ago was a great spinner but today he has added decent batting ability in his armory which is vital for the team in these big tournaments. If Ashwin can translate his unimaginable potential into performance, it could be a delight for the team and the fans.