Indian cricket is now entering a completely new era. This era will be led by Dravid and Rohit. They have already taken the first step of correcting the faults of Kohli and Shastri. One of them is giving Ravichandran Ashwin the respect he deserves for his cricketing abilities.
Most talented spinner out of the team
In spite of being the most talented spinner of India, Ashwin was not a consistent part of the playing XI when Kohli and Shastri were handling the team. Even though his performances were not poor in limited-overs, Ravichandran was always at the periphery of One Day and T20 teams.
Before Rohit Sharma was appointed a captain of the T20 team, Ashwin played his last one-day international in 2017. Virat Kohli mainly chose teams based on the formula called ‘horses for courses’. Under this formula, a player is chosen for playing XI based on his skills and experience.
Chahal and Kuldeep were preferred over Ashwin
The formula resulted in players like Kuldeep Yadav, Yazuvendra Chahal getting regularly selected for playing XI. Since most of the pitches are flat, a leg spinner who gives more flight to the ball is believed to be more luring for batsmen to hit him for boundaries. Since they spin the ball against the right-handers, there are more chances of getting edges leading to the dismissal of batsmen. On the flip side, they are hammered for more runs as well. This was the logic behind selecting Kuldeep and Chahal.
Ashwin is not a traditional off-spinner
However, keeping Ravichandran out of the team was not viable. Ashwin is an off-spinner, which makes him vulnerable against batsmen lining him up and hitting through the line. However, Ashwin being Ashwin, possess loads of variations. Off-spin, leg-spin, Arm ball, Doosra, undercutter, Carrom ball, loopy deliveries; you name it, Ashwin has everything in his armory. Moreover, Ashwin is not a traditional-off spinner, he flights the ball like leg-spinners (Chahal and Kuldeep). All of his exploits were constantly being used by his IPL teams, even when Virat Kohli put him out.
Pandya is an impact player, while Ashwin is about modulation
Ashwin is also a sound batsman. Though a case could be made for Hardik Pandya being preferred over him, Pandya’s erratic approach destabilised the team. Pandya is an impact batsman, i.e. when he is in the flow, he will win you matches, when not, he will get dismissed for a paltry score. Basically, when Pandya is batting, it’s all or nothing for the team. While for Ravichandran, it’s more about Modulating the temperament and flow of the match. In the long term, modulation provides more stability to an organisation.
Moreover, Pandya has never been a good enough bowler to be trusted for a full 10-over quota. Pandya has been mainly utilised in middle overs, and he is rarely trusted for bowling in death overs. On the other hand, Ashwin has proved his mettle in every situation of the match. He can stop the run flow during power-plays and death-overs. Similarly, he can chip in with key wickets during middle overs as well. As a package, it makes much more sense to go for Ashwin over Pandya.
Ashwin was ousted from the test team as well
On the back of his undeniable performances, Ravichandran somewhat cemented his place in Test XI. However, various alleged controversies with Kohli and Shastri-led team management resulted in keeping him out of the fold in this year’s England tour. He later returned with a bang against New Zealand, and people started to ponder upon whether Ashwin was kept outside the team for non-cricketing reasons.
Until, any of the aforementioned cricketers write a biography, we will never be able to know accurate reasons behind keeping Ashwin out of the team. But, one thing is for sure, players preferred over Ashwin were not a better cricketing alternative than him.