Amongst the unforgettable moments from India’s thrilling four-wicket victory over Pakistan in their first match of Super 12 phase in the T20 World Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, ace off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin leaving a down leg delivery from left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz which was called a wide by umpire Rod Tucker has been highly talked about on social media.
With two runs needed in as many balls, Ashwin had arrived at the crease after wicketkeeper-batter and fellow Chennai mate Dinesh Karthik had been stumped. Expecting him to make room and have a swipe at the delivery, Nawaz bowled a flat, quicker delivery through the leg-side. But Ashwin, who was deep inside the crease, sidestepped and saw the ball go past him to be called a wide as the Indian supporters in the stadium cheered loudly.
Eventually, Ashwin would loft smoothly off Nawaz over mid-off to give India a heart-stopping victory on the last ball. On being asked if Ashwin had been given instructions by the team think-tank over approaching the pressure situation, India bowling coach Paras Mhambrey said it was the other way around.
“When it comes to Ashwin, he tells us this is what I am going to do. So, no (instructions). It’s just the way he is; the individual is full of so much composure and the presence of mind to actually leave that ball. If you look at that stage, any other individual would have swung his bat. That’s Ashwin for you, top player,” said Mhambrey in the pre-match press conference ahead of India’s Super 12 match against the Netherlands on Thursday.
Apart from that astonishing leave with the bat, Ashwin also had tidy figures of 0/23 in his three overs, conceding just one six and keeping the Pakistan batters in check, to justify his inclusion in the eleven ahead of leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. Mhambrey dropped hints over Ashwin being given extended run in the playing eleven considering the batting depth he provides for the side.
“You will see the match-ups as well. Against the team you are going to play, you will see their batting combination, their composition. Then you do your homework a lot on the players who are struggling, the type of bowlers they struggle against while batting, which is one point.
“The second additional thing is, Ashwin also adds to the batting, and we will see both points. When you are choosing Ashwin, you need to see what he brings to the team, and composition wise too, what value he offers to the team.
“Every venue will bring a different challenge, pitches will be different and sometimes on seeing the pitch, you will have to change the combination too. There could be conditions where you have to employ four seamers and are quite fluid about it. But Ashwin definitely brings this thing to the team.”
Pointing out that India will be playing the second game on a particular pitch in three out of its four remaining matches in Super 12, Mhambrey concluded by saying Chahal might get a look-in if the Indian team encounters drier pitches in the tournament.
Thursday’s match against the Netherlands is at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), a venue which is known for traditionally aiding spinners.
“Looking at the balance of the team we are playing against and the batters you are playing against, you got to look at the match-up options; sometimes you got to think on those lines as well. There’s no particular condition you got to look at.
“You don’t expect to have turning tracks out here, maybe you will have some tracks who will have little bit of spin because we are playing some of the games second (on the pitch). So, there’s a lot of wear and tear as you go into the wickets in the tournament. When you feel you have the opportunity to have an additional spinner will help, we will go with him.”