“Whatever the scenario is, whoever gets a nod, one thing is clear, the spinners need to pull up and adapt soon in order to trap this star-studded South African batting in their spin web”.
Dominance is the word that springs to mind when one talks about the deadly spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. They have been unstoppable in the recently concluded home season for India, where wickets were picked in heaps by them. They made the most of spin-friendly conditions and played a vital role behind India’s ascendance in Tests.
With India being all set to lock horns with South Africa in their own den this week, the anticipation for the same is on a high. The tour is no less than a litmus test for this high on confidence Indian side as South Africa will be a tough nut to crack, especially on their home soil.
Although spin won’t have a massive role to play in the seam-friendly South African conditions, but it will matter as the game progresses. One just saw, the kind of impact Nathan Lyon had in the ongoing Ashes, where he provided the much-needed breakthroughs at crucial junctures. It’s very unlikely, that India will opt for two spinners in South Africa, but the pressure will be huge on whoever gets a go.
Ashwin and Jadeja need to prove a point outside the subcontinent
Ashwin has been the wrecker-in-chief and did an outstanding job on surfaces that favoured spin in the recent times. His rise with the red cherry has been astronomical and has been topping the bowling charts on a regular basis with his wily off-spin. He has 111 wickets from last 19 Test encounters at a staggering average of 25.87, which itself speaks about the kind of impact he has had. He constantly scripted new records and found himself in the elite company of legends very often.
Ashwin’s overseas record as a bowler is not as inspiring as his run at home. He is a beast at home but has not been able to replicate similar magic in conditions that don’t favour spin bowling. At home, Ashwin has 220 wickets from 68 innings at 23.04 while at away venues, Ashwin has 84 wickets from 35 innings at 31.75. Although the difference is not huge, but Ashwin will have to make a bigger impact in this series. Also, he remained wicketless in his solitary outing in South Africa.
Conditions in Australia and South Africa are not very different, Ashwin has not tasted enormous success Down Under too. In 10 innings, Ashwin has 21 wickets at 54.71. This tour is a golden opportunity for the prolific spinner to stamp his authority on alien land.
Talking about Jadeja, the left-arm orthodox spinner has been a force to be reckoned at home. His average of 20.34 in 49 innings with 131 scalps under his belt, corroborates the belief. But his overseas record has rather been ordinary. In 18 innings, Jadeja has 34 wickets at 36.82, which is not acceptable by the kind of standard Jadeja sets for himself. Although Jadeja did get a fifer in his solitary Test in South Africa but needs to do it consistently if given a chance this time.
This is a different challenge altogether for both Ashwin and Jadeja as the line and length that worked in India might not be as fruitful in South Africa. Here the ball will turn less and bounce more, they need to make quick adjustments in their line, length and also in their bowling action. South Africa are already fired up with the return of AB de Villiers along with a well settled and firing top-order. The challenge is huge, it will be interesting to see if Indian spinners can deliver.
India’s vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane spoke about Indian spinners. “I feel Ashwin and Jadeja, they both have it in them to deliver abroad and not only in India. See when you play in India you have to bowl in a certain way and if you see the likes of Moeen Ali, Nathan Lyon, if they are playing in England, Australia they have to bowl in a different style,” Rahane told ‘India Today’ channel.
“So, Ashwin and Jadeja, they are doing really well at the moment but I am sure they are capable of doing well abroad as well. Yes, they have to change their style a bit, skills a bit, have to bowl at a different pace but I completely believe that and I am confident that whoever plays or even if both of them play, they will do well in abroad,” Rahane added.
It is quite clear, that India will play a solitary spinner in the playing XI. There have been instances where spinners were not given a long run and they failed to establish themselves in this Indian side on overseas tours. In this tour, whoever they pick, Ashwin or Jadeja, they need to invest in their abilities for a reasonable amount of time. There shouldn’t be a sense of fear in the bowler’s mind that he might get axed after one terrible game.
India need a settled bowler bowling on the fourth and fifth day of a Test match. And a bowler will only get settled after getting used to the conditions, which only come through match practice. Whatever the scenario is, whoever gets a nod, one thing is clear, the spinners need to pull up and adapt soon in order to trap this star-studded South African batting in their spin web. This is also a golden opportunity for Ashwin and Jadeja to better their overseas records as they have been in scintillating form and coming fresh from a dominating home season.