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R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja out for New Zealand ODIs: Some questions not answered

R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will not play in India’s third ODI series in a row after not being selected for the three-match contest against New Zealand starting next week.

india vs new zealand 2017 Updated: Oct 15, 2017 15:07 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
R Ashwin,Ravindra Jadeja,India vs New Zealand
R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have been left out of the Indian cricket team’s limited overs squad yet again.(HT Photo)

R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were the men for all seasons until June, when they landed in England for the Indian cricket team’s defence of the ICC Champions Trophy. But their failure to help India secure the premier ODI trophy has seen their stocks plummet.

India’s premier Test spinners, R Ashwin and Jadeja, were snubbed by the national cricket selectors again after being left out of the squad for the three-match ODI series against New Zealand, starting on October 22.

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On the face of it, it seems to be a continuation of the Indian cricket team management, led by skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri, pinning its faith in wrist spin over finger spin.

The switch to Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has netted benefits with the two proving more attacking, wicket-taking options. India believe that will help in the 2019 cricket World Cup to be played in England.

R Ashwin, the Indian cricket team’s premier Test wicket-taker, has not been influential with the white ball.

Fewer ODI matches

Since the 2015 World Cup, R Ashwin has only made sporadic appearances in ODI cricket. He has played just 15 of the 47 games India have figured in. Jadeja has featured in 17.

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Ashwin has been left out for the last three series --- versus Sri Lanka, Australia and now New Zealand. Jadeja was included as an injury back-up for fellow left-arm spinner Axar Patel during the recent series against Australia, but didn’t get to play.

R Ashwin made waves first as a limited-overs spinner, and was a prominent member of the 2011 World Cup win at home. But both Ashwin and Jadeja failed to make a mark in the Champions Trophy.

Ashwin struggled to get into the playing eleven. He was picked only for three matches, taking just one wicket. He failed to strike against Bangladesh, and went for 0/70 in the loss against Pakistan in the final. Jadeja played five games, but returned 0/67 in the final at the Oval as Pakistan raised a match-winning 338.

Ashwin picked one wicket in the tournament while Jadeja had just four from five games.

Attacking, not containing

Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have lived up to the Indian cricket team’s mantra that taking wickets, rather than containing, is the way forward. That has allowed the team to constantly test rival batsmen instead of waiting for set players to make mistakes and get out.

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India’s new approach has seen them dominate ODI series in Sri Lanka and against Australia, winning 5-0 and 4-1 respectively.

However, the national selectors have not explained why Jadeja and Ashwin have not been given a go even in home conditions, raising questions whether they are part of India’s limited-overs plans heading into the 2019 World Cup.

Wasn’t Jadeja the ideal limited-overs all-rounder before Hardik Pandya started making waves? As arguably the best fielder in the side, big-hitter down the order and a restricting spinner who also got through his overs very fast, Jadeja was seen as a certainty in limited overs.

Although he has managed only 155 wickets in 136 ODIs, averaging 35.87, Jadeja’s growing confidence as a Test all-rounder was expected to show in limited overs too going ahead.

Ashwin not impressed

Ashwin, though, seemed to suggest there could be more to his omission than meets the eye. In recent media comments, he said: “I’m not desperate at all. One day, the opportunity will come knocking on my door because I haven’t done too much wrong.

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“So, when I get the opportunity and when I am put in an occasion, I will probably try and raise my game to the best of my ability,” he said.

Ashwin is an absolute match-winner at home though his overseas performances have come under scrutiny, after failing to make a mark in England, South Africa and Australia.

The off-spinner, who has always taken up challenges and prides himself as a fast learner, had a stint in the English County to work on his bowling ahead of next year’s Test tour.

It remains to be seen whether the Indian cricket selectors bring back R Ashwin and Jadeja for the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka before India set off on the South Africa tour starting early next year.

First Published: Oct 15, 2017 15:03 IST