Not quite in the loop
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Not quite in the loop

After his dream debut against the West Indies, Ashwin's poor form in Australia has the team worried. Amol Karhadkar reports. Ashwin in recent times

india Updated: Feb 07, 2012 01:35 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
Amol Karhadkar,R Ashwin,India

While in the midst of a dream debut - the Test series against the West Indies - R Ashwin had tied the knot with his childhood sweetheart.

No wonder that during the five-match ODI series that followed, the off-spinner, who showed that he is no muck with the bat, was hardly seen at the ground except on match days.

Cut to Sunday, and it was clear that the Chennai tweaker's honeymoon period was over.

After the high against the Caribbeans, where he picked up 22 wickets in three Tests, Ashwin was the natural choice as India's leading spinner.

The selection was a reward for his variation and also for the fact that Harbhajan Singh appeared to have been struggling for too long.

After the high, the low

However, not once during the seven weeks spent in Australia, has Ashwin looked to put the Australia batsmen in any sort of trouble. All through the Test series, one sensed that he couldn't cope with the conditions that are not really friendly for spinners.

Even in the limited-over format --- which is undoubtedly his forte --- Ashwin has been a pale shadow of himself in the three games, including Sunday's CB Series opener.

If the two T20 Internationals, in which he picked up just one wicket for 57 runs off eight overs, were a bad start to the second leg of the tour, Sunday's ODI in Melbourne made it worse for the tall spinner.

With Australia expected to go on the rampage after a prolonged rain break, which curtailed the game to 32 overs-a-side, all Ashwin had to do was to bowl with the intent of preventing the batsmen from scoring.

Instead, he offered a series of long hops to allow David Hussey and Matthew Wade join in the fun that Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey had had during the Test series.

India skipper MS Dhoni did his best to defend Ashwin but was at a loss to explain his failure after the Melbourne defeat.

Poor form stumps Dhoni
"As for Ashwin, it's very difficult. At times, bowlers don't bowl well. It has an effect on everyone. He is a good bowler and has done well in the past. But then it's his first series in Australia.

"He is still getting used to the conditions," said Dhoni, adding, "Especially, with the white ball and bounce of the wicket. If you bowl a loose delivery here, more often than not, you would be scored off. It could be playing on his mind."

If a bowler cannot get used to the conditions in seven weeks and, as a result, forgets the art of bowling with the white ball - which effectively earned him a spot in the Tests - the think-tank needs to toy with the idea of replacing him.

Will it happen against Sri Lanka on Wednesday?

First Published: Feb 06, 2012 23:57 IST