Team India missed a golden opportunity to end their losing Test series streak in South Africa after being defeated in the third and final match at Newlands, Cape Town on Friday to let underdogs and less-experienced Proteas bag the contest 2-1.
There were several reasons for Virat Kohli & Co failing in the Rainbow Nation. Veteran offie Ravichandran Ashwin was one of the biggest disappointments, along with Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara.
There have always been talks about Ashwin’s “below-par overseas” performances. Even in the recently-concluded Test series, he managed just three wickets in the 64.1 overs he bowled in the three matches against the Proteas. Two of these scalps were the last couple of wickets to seal the Indian win in the Boxing Day Test.
The 35-year-old’s substandard display has invited criticism from all corners. Recently cricketer-turned-commentator Aakash Chopra picked his inability to take wickets as one of the reasons for India’s defeat in the Test series.
“I was slightly disappointed. I had a lot of expectations from him (Ashwin) that he will do something, that he will contribute a little more, whether it was the Johannesburg or Cape Town pitch. Of course, they were not going to be rank turners but there was no contribution with the ball at all,” Chopra had said.
Meanwhile, netizens also slammed the Tamil Nadu spinner.
“What the result of this series also establishes/suggests/reiterates is that Ashwin is not India’s No.1 overseas spinner. Ravindra Jadeja is. #INDvsSA #SAvIND #Ashwin,” wrote one on Twitter.
Another said: “Ashwin wonder spinner has taken only 87 wkts overseas out of 430, this series found him out 3 wkts at 64 in 63 overs when he had no biz playing on those surfaces.”
“Still wondering what world’s best spinner Ashwin was doing in South Africa,” added yet another one.
It won’t be wrong to state that the off-spinner left the door open for Ravindra Jadeja to come back from an injury and take the spot as India’s overseas spinner. Jadeja has been a vital cog in the wheel for India in Test matches in the past few years.
With his controlled left-arm spin and bankable batting ability, he was the all-rounder crucial in maintaining India’s balance in the playing eleven, especially in overseas conditions.
Jadeja’s recent absence meant the sole spinner plus all-rounder role went to Ashwin.
The pitches in South Africa were not at all conducive for spin bowling but Ashwin disappointed in not making any sort of impact with the ball. With the bat, however, he played a couple of useful knocks.
The team’s next Test assignment will be against Sri Lanka in a two-match series at home in February-March. Ashwin might get a chance here as his record at home is phenomenal. But getting a place in foreign tours, in the future, would be really difficult.
As per Ashwin’s record, he has picked up 430 wickets in 84 Tests, at an average of 24.38, economy of 2.77 and a strike rate of 52.7. He has 30 five wicket hauls and his best in 7/59.
However, the bulk of his wickets (300) are in his 49 home matches, where he had an average of 21.40, an economy of 2.69, and a strike rate of 47.6. As many as 24 of his five-wicket hauls, as well as his best performance, are at home.
In his 34 matches on foreign soil, he has only picked up 126 wickets at an average of 31.88, an economy of 2.93, and a strike rate of 65.2. His best is 7/83.
On his sole neutral venue outing, he took four wickets at an average of 11.25, an economy of 1.80, and a strike rate of 37.5. Hie best was 2/17.