Cricket: Ashwin departs after taking 500 scalps; India will miss his planning ability

Due to personal reasons Ravichandran Ashwin was forced to pull out of the ongoing Test match against England after he had reached a well deserved landmark of 500 Test wickets. But his departure has plunged the team into a bit of a quandary. Virat Kohli and Rahul are not playing in this match. Now with Ashwin also pulling out, some of the experienced seniors will be missing.

The BCCI did not immediately reveal the reason for Ashwin’s departure but it was later learnt that his mother was seriously ill and so he took a flight to Chennai to be by her side.

His mother Chitra was the most influential figure during his formative years in cricket. She is a lady with keen knowledge of the game and it was she who advised Ashwin to give up his dream of becoming a fast bowler and take up spin bowling instead. The switch was highly successful and today Ashwin has been able to bag 500 wickets to enter a list of elite bowlers of the world.

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For India’s ace off spinner this achievement has been a well deserved honour for a career filled with hard work, perseverance, determination and above all creativity in perfecting the art of bowling off spin.

Off spinners are India’s strength

India has had some good off spinners in the past. Three of them were from Hyderabad – namely Ghulam Ahmed, Shivlal Yadav and Arshad Ayub. Then there was the incomparable E A S Prasanna and the crafty Harbhajan Singh. But purely in terms of wickets, Ashwin has gone beyond them all.

Ashwin’s prowess as an off spinner arises from a combination of great skill and keen awareness of the game and its tactics. He possesses one of the sharpest minds in the Indian cricket team. Moreover, his technical skills set him apart from the rest.

Ashwin’s formidable weapons

In his formidable armoury of weapons he has a wide array of deliveries and every ball is delivered with remarkable control and deception.

He changes his methods from match to match depending upon the batters who are facing him and the pitch conditions on which he is bowling. His changes make it difficult for the batsmen to settle down and understand his ploys. Thus he can be a very potent threat on any kind of surface and against all types of opposition.

India will miss him

But now, with his departure, India will miss his services not only as a bowler but also as a planner and strategist. Ashwin’s grasp of game plans is excellent. He has the ability to quickly assess pitch conditions, batsmen’s weaknesses, and match situations, and this enables him to adapt his approach accordingly.

The team needs him as a thinker and player who can deliver the goods under different circumstances. Without him at this stage of the match, a lot will depend upon the effectiveness of Jadeja and Yadav. The spin attack will be handicapped but fast bowlers Siraj and Bumrah will be there to keep the guns blazing. Having taken four wickets in England’s first innings, Siraj seems to be in good form.

Must not forget his batting

However, while heaping accolades on his bowling one must not forget that he is a very capable batter in the lower order. In this respect he is better than any other famous off spinner in Indian cricket history.

Ashwin has scored a century and taken five wickets in the same Test match on three separate occasions. He has scored five centuries in Test cricket with 124 against West Indies in Kolkata being his highest. Furthermore Ashwin has also bagged Man of the Series ten times. All said and done, Ashwin’s qualities of technical mastery, strategic insight and unwavering dedication make him one of the finest cricketers of this generation. India will badly miss his services for the remainder of this match.

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