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Saturday, Aug 17, 2019

‘Ravichandran Ashwin very much in frame for 2019 Cricket World Cup’

Ravichandran Ashwin’s ineffectiveness in English conditions is not a cause for worry, says bowling coach Bharat Arun. The 2019 Cricket World Cup will be played in England

india-vs-sri-lanka-2017 Updated: Aug 22, 2017 20:47 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Dambulla
Ravichandran Ashwin was rested for India’s ODI series against Sri Lanka but is part of the bigger plans for 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Ravichandran Ashwin was rested for India’s ODI series against Sri Lanka but is part of the bigger plans for 2019 Cricket World Cup.(AFP)

India declared the Sri Lanka One-day series was the start of a long tune-up for the 2019 Cricket World Cup, and their second string spinners shared seven wickets to rout the home team by nine wickets in the first match in Dambulla on Sunday.

While India continued their total domination in Sri Lanka, skipper Virat Kohli spoke about plans to try out players in different roles and all eyes were on former skipper MS Dhoni.

However, one question that had not been answered was what role the Indian team management saw for its main spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin, in the build-up to the premier tournament.

READ | Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team eyes Australian trait in quest for ruthlessness

The 2019 Cricket World Cup will be played in England and Wales, where seamers would fancy their chances more. And though the 2013 and 2017 ICC Champions Trophy editions saw good batting surfaces, it still left many wondering where India’s premier bowler fitted in the scheme of things.

Key wicket-takers

The national selectors had not picked Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who had together claimed 30 wickets in the 3-0 Test series sweep ahead of the ODI series -- four others shared 25 scalps. Ashwin packed his bags to play in the English County, and get used to conditions as India are due to play a Test series there next year.

In the current squad, the off-spin duties are being handled by Kedar Jadhav, the part-timer who is primarily in the squad for his power-hitting prowess.

READ | Why MS Dhoni may not make it to 2019 Cricket World Cup

India’s bowling coach, Bharat Arun, however, said Ashwin was very much part of the long-term plans as India prepare for the event. This, despite Ashwin making only sporadic appearances in the ODI squad.

It will be a major move if the Indian think-tank is looking beyond the spinner, but Ashwin played only three matches in the ICC Champions Trophy, and took just one wicket against South Africa. He played in the defeat against Pakistan in the final, but returned wicketless giving away 70 runs.

‘Extremely talented bowler’

Bharat Arun though chose to look at Ashwin’s last ODI game – 3/28 in the West Indies where he played in the first three matches.

READ | Ravi Shastri wants India to be best fielding side at 2019 Cricket World Cup

“To be very honest, this is a question you should be asking the selector,” he said when asked about Ashwin’s infrequent ODIs.

“But yes, as a bowling coach, he is an extremely talented bowler. Even if you look at the last one-day which he played in the West Indies, he got 3/25. Ashwin is very, very skilful. That’s it, I’ve answered your question.”

But what about Ashwin not regularly featuring in ODIs?

“I don’t want to see what has happened so far. But what I would like to see is yes, Ashwin is also part of the team we are looking at. We are also looking at giving opportunities to other bowlers. And then we have a long-term plan in place, we would work accordingly.”

Record away from the sub-continent

Ashwin’s record away from the sub-continent, in Australia, England and South Africa has not been great. And from purely the team’s point of view, while it has wrist-spin options in leggie Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, there is hardly any back-up off-spinner of quality at the moment.

READ | Shikhar Dhawan’s ton, Axar Patel’s best help India floor Sri Lanka in Dambulla

Arun said: “Why only off-spinner, we will need to have back-up options for every bowler that we have. And there are enough bowlers in our country to provide that bench strength.”

The Indian team though is in search of a left-arm pace bowler to provide a crucial variation.

“Left-arm fast bowling, yes, we are looking. If we can get even one good left-arm fast bowler, it will go well for the side,” said Arun.

First Published: Aug 22, 2017 20:25 IST

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