Gearing up to face the Caribbean storm

Chennai Super Kings' lanky off-spinner R Ashwin has impressive educational credentials - he's completed an engineering degree. It goes without saying that while burning the midnight oil in high school he must've gone through Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol - a lock in almost every school's syllabus. Just as well, because his bowling is becoming increasingly like the book's central character Ebenezer Scrooge - miserly and stingy.

The 24-year-old may not have played a Test yet, but on Sunday he did what bowlers with hundreds of Test wickets have failed to do this season - keep Chris Gayle in check.

It's rare to see Chris Gayle defend a ball, it's even rarer when the Jamaican marauder adopts this approach in a T20 match. Gayle was content just to see off Ashwin, while he went for broke against the rest.

Ashwin's impressive spell drew praise from RCB skipper Daniel Vettori, arguably the best spinner in world cricket at the moment. "Ashwin has been their top bowler this campaign and Gayle respected that," said Vettori, when asked if he was surprised seeing Gayle accord so much respect to a spinner with the new ball.

It's no secret that Gayle likes to go after the spinners. In fact with Gayle in murderous mood on Sunday, CSK skipper MS Dhoni refrained from even using specialist spinner Shadab Jakati. "I'd assume the skipper was apprehensive with Chris Gayle batting, and quite rightly so. Chris is in wonderful form and a left arm spinner is someone he likes to hit," said coach Stephen Fleming when asked why a specialist bowler was not given even a single over.

According to the curator, and as evidenced by the last three low-scoring encounters, the pitch at the Wankhede is expected to play slow. In conditions like these, similar to Chepauk where CSK won 7/7, Ashwin can be hard to handle. A look at their perfect home record and it's fair to say, when Ashwin is unplayable, CSK are unbeatable.

 

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