India’s adventure under the new coach Anil Kumble came to a sizzling start as the Men in Blue (though in white) were able to inflict an innings defeat on the West Indies on the 4th day of the first test in Antigua.
It was an accomplished performance from each and every member of the squad who had their own effect on the game but none more than Ravichandran Aswin who put in a ‘man of the match’ performance with a century in the first innings and a 7-for in the last.
The Indian offie, who is recognized as one of the best off-spinners in Test Cricket is slowly turning into the all-rounder Indian cricket was missing over the last decade or so.
Irfan Pathan, the wily left-arm seamer looked like the correct package as he showed with his stint with the bat against Australia and England and also with the ball against Pakistan, arguably his best performance in an Indian shirt. He was the player who slotted into the 7th place in the batting lineup (an opener at times) as an all-rounder and had all the makings of a top class player who can take the team to the next level.
However, the experimentation by the selectors of the side at his time made sure that he was not able to keep up his form as he slowly lost his place in the squad. He has ever since been on the fringes of the domestic circuit and has not been able to make a comeback into the national team.
But Ashwin, on the other hand, is taking a completely different route to stardom. He is, without his batting skills, the wicket-taker in the current Indian side. His experience and his skill with the ball have troubled even the best in the business and he showed his class against the West Indies on the final day where he ran through the batting order picking up 7 wickets in less than 20 overs.
He is a player who is always considered as a decent batsman but he has shown in the first game this series that he is more than just a decent bat. He scored a trouble-less century where he had partnerships with Virat Kohli and Wriddiman Saha as he helped the side to a total of more than 550. His innings was what held the top order together as Kohli and his team-mates managed to play around him for most game.
This is not the responsibility that Ashwin would like to take every match but the fact that the team has a player who can do that will give confidence to his teammates.
So his recent exploits in Antigua have now seen him rise to a level where is being considered the all-rounder that the Indian team wants and a player who is among the best all-rounders in the world.
The likes of Andrew Flintoff and Jaques Kallis, two players who are regarded as the best all-rounders of the modern game are hard to replicate but there is no doubt that Ashwin is one of the best in the current generation.
The likes of Ben Stokes (who is making himself a name) and Sakib al Hasan (who is arguably the best all-rounder at the moment) are not way better than the Indian at the moment but they have made themselves a name with some consistency in recent times.
Ashwin is slowly building up his reputation and if he can continue to perform with the bat and the ball in years to come, he may just be the best all-rounder of the modern era for India.
Do you think Ravichandran Ashwin is the answer to India’s all-rounder woes?