Is it the end of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja’s white-ball career?
2017 ICC Champions Trophy had two major significance; firstly, Pakistan was crowned as champions while beating arch-rivals India in the grand finale at The Oval in England. Secondly, it almost marked the end of India’s spinning duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja’s limited-over career.
The humiliating loss to Pakistan spurred a whole lot of change in the Indian team. Virat Kohli’s team wanted to bring in energy as the senior players got sidelined.
Begining of the end:
The likes of Imran Tahir, Shadab Khan, and Adil Rashid finished ahead of India’s spinners on the wickets tally. Jadeja finished with four wickets in the tournament at an average of over 62. While Ashwin returned with a sole wicket which came at a painful average of 167.
However, if we go back a little bit, between the 2015 World Cup and the 2017 Champions Trophy, Ashwin played just nine ODIs, while Jadeja played 10. This sparks a major contrast with both playing 30 or more one-day games between 2011 World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy.
Jadeja topped the wickets tally during India’s title win 2013 Champions Trophy, while Ashwin had an outstanding average of 22.62.
Then between 2013 and 2015, World Cup Ashwin played 35 games while Jadeja had 41 games to his name. Both bagged wickets with ease, with Ashwin in particular picking 13 wickets in 8 matches. Interestingly, since 2014 Jadeja has not returned with a three-wicket haul in ODI.
The rise of wrist-spinners:
Since 2015 World Cup, the cricketing fraternity witnessed a shift from finger spinners to wrist spinners. Also, the top three most successful spinners in ODIs have been wrist spinners. England’s Adil Rashid, Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, and South Africa’s Imran Tahir took 60-plus wickets in this period.
However, New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner was the highest wicket-taker among finger spinners.
India went in with Kuldeep Yadav for the Windies tour right after the Champions Trophy. The unorthodox leg-spinner returned with eight wickets from four matches from the Caribbean Islands.
Growing in stature:
India continued with Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep in the Sri Lanka series. However, many thought that the Indian team management has decided to give Ashwin and Jadeja rest with Sri Lanka going through a transition period. The duo grabbed the opportunity with both hands as they tore apart the Sri Lankan batting line-up.
The team management shocked everyone when they sidelined Ashwin and Jadeja from the Australia series. However, to everyone’s surprise, the young duo came victorious over a star-studded Australian batting line-up. They did the bulk of the job leading the wickets tally.
It was followed by New Zealand and Sri Lanka series and the success story of India’s wrist-spinners continued. Although they leaked here and there, overall they bowled some top spells foxing the batsmen.
Even, Chahal finished 2017 as the highest wicket-taker in T20I cricket.
South Africa series:
However, their main test had to be the South African series. Playing in Indian conditions so far, many didn’t expect much when BCCI named Kuldeep and Chahal as the only spinning options in South Africa.
However, they ran all over the South African batting line-up picking 30 wickets together in the series so far. South African batsmen lost the series trying to find an answer to India’s young wrist-spinning duo.
Virat Kohli and Co-scripted history as they became the first team to register a series win in the Rainbow Nation.
The duo was praised by everybody around the world as many labeled them as India’s trump card in the upcoming ICC World Cup.
Chahal, who rose to fame playing under Virat Kohli in Royal Challengers Bangalore claimed 41 wickets in 22 matches in ODIs. He bowled at a strike-rate of 12.3 with an average of 21.98. While Kuldeep bagged 38 wickets in 19 matches at an average of 20.77. Kuldeep bowled at a strike rate of 24.1
In comparison, Ashwin averages around 33 with a strike-rate of 40 after 111 matches while Jadeja averages 35.87 with a strike-rate nearing 44 after 136 matches.
The statistics make it clear that the current spinners are more attacking when it comes to taking wickets. Not only about taking wickets, Kuldeep and Chahal are more miser than the seniors.
With Kuldeep and Chahal growing strength to strength and growing in stature, it likely that Ashwin and Jadeja might not find a spot again in the limited overs squad.
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