Cricket: Is it time for Team India to look beyond Jadeja and Ashwin in LOIs?

India’s humiliating loss to Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 final can be post mortem-ed down to one statistic – 13 wides and 3 no-balls bowled. That’s 16 extra deliveries, most of which would have yielded extra runs. That Pakistan bowlers bowled just one wide, further underlines the difference in illegal deliveries between the rival teams, would have yielded a 50+ runs gap. Young Jasprit Bumrah, who started a nervous wreck on big match day, is currently carrying the mantle of big villain.

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The Ashwin selection

The other big flop identified in television studios has been Ravichandran Ashwin. Personally, I wanted Umesh Yadav to start the semi-final and final, ahead of Ashwin, for the following reasons.

  • Umesh had taken 3-30 vs Pakistan in the opening group game.
  • Ashwin hasn’t been great in limited over games the last year and half, often not even completing his quota of overs.
  • Umesh Yadav in the team means he bowls upfront and Bumrah comes first change. That’s a stronger first change bowler than Ashwin or Pandya. Also it gives the youngster Bumrah more buffer to settle his nerves.
  • Asian teams play spin better than they play pace bowling. Ashwin playing vs South Africa in a 280 pitch was logical but Yadav’s inclusion made more sense in the 325 pitches vs Asian semi-final and final opponents.
  • Yadav’s far superior fielding skills also titled the scales in his favour. Ashwin had dropped an easy catch and let runs slip through his fingers multiple times in the games he played, leading to the final.

But India’s team management, down the decades, always have this tendency of including players who can ‘bat a bit’ rather than horses for courses. On top, Ashwin, ICC Test Cricketer of Year 2016, was too big a name to drop.

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Is Jadeja escaping scrutiny

Under each of these post-Edgbaston root cause analysis, one person’s performance has mostly gone hidden. Ravindra Jadeja’s super expensive bowling figures of 8-0-67-0, batting strike rate of meagre 57% and his run out of a fired up Hardik Pandya would sum up to the worst performer of the final.

It’s not for the first time when Sir Jadeja failed badly on a big day, the team got knocked out of a major event and Jaddu’s performance didn’t make to the limelight. In fact, Jadeja has been the primary reason why Team India have failed on many big days.

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Here’s a look at our star spinning duo’s performances, in key games when India have been knocked out, over the last decade.

Event: T20 World Cup 2016

Opponent: West Indies

Venue: Mumbai

India made a huge score of 192 runs and in no time had West Indies reeling at 19/2 off 3 overs. Star batsman Chris Gayle also back in the pavilion, by then. It seemed to be only one winner from there on. But this game is now remembered for wicket taking no-balls from Hardik Pandya and Ravichandran Ashwin and how those cost India the match. What didn’t go discussed was Jadeja’s 4-0-48-0 … worst economy rate amongst all bowlers who turned their arm that evening.

Event: T20 World Cup 2014

Opponent: Sri Lanka

Venue: Dhaka

Indian fans remember this as the only limited overs game where Yuvraj Singh, the erstwhile big match star performer, let us down. His batting struggles (11 off 21 balls) that evening, has been scripted as main reason why India could only muster a meagre total of 130. A target which the Lankans hunted down with over two overs to spare. This was a pitch where Lankan spinners, and even Suresh Raina, had economy rates of 6 runs or less per over. Yet again, like at Mumbai 2016 or at Edgbaston 2017, Ashwin and Jadeja disappointed. Jadeja’s figures of 1-0-11-0 easily the worst economy rate for the night.

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Event: T20 World Cup 2012

Opponent: Australia

Venue: Colombo

India had a great tournament, losing only one of the five matches they played. Yet they could never make it to the semis as the margin of defeat in this match versus Australia, despite scoring 140, was so huge, that it severely dented the team’s nett run rate. India had beaten England by 90 runs, Pakistan by 8 wickets, Afghanistan by 23 runs and South Africa by 1 run. Yet the pummeling received in this game haunted India mid-way through the event. Jadeja didn’t play this game but Ashwin (3.5-0-32-0), Harbhajan Singh (2-0-20-0) and Piyush Chawla (1-0-14-0) were so poor that Aussies chased the target within 15 overs. In a match where part timer Glenn Maxwell bowled in first three overs of the game and had figures of 2-0-11-0.

Event: T20 World Cup 2010

Opponent: Australia, West Indies

Venue: West Indies

India started this event with two wins over Afghanistan and South Africa. Coming into the next stage, they lost to Australia and West Indies so badly, that the last game vs Sri Lanka became inconsequential. Against Australia Jadeja went for 2-0-38-0, easily the worst bowling figure of that day and followed it up with another disappointing 2-0-27-1 vs West Indies. These were pitches where Harbhajan Singh, Yusuf Pathan and even part timer Steven Smith went for under 8 runs per over, on those match days. Jadeja’s scant batting runs were well under 100% strike rate despite coming to bat at end overs stage of the innings. Safe to say Ravindra Jadeja was one of the big reasons why India got knocked out of this event, despite starting well.

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Event: T20 World Cup 2009

Opponent: England

Venue: Lords

Having lost to West Indies in the first key encounter in the second group stages, India played hosts England in a must win game. The Poms, batting first, made 153 with the young 20-year-old Jadeja impressing with bowling figures of 4-0-26-2. Wobbling the chase at 24/2, the team management tried an x factor move sending Jadeja at number four to see off the new ball. Jadeja struggled to a 25 off 35 balls which till today is remembered as reason for exit from this event. So bad was that batting effort that even late flourishes from Yusuf Pathan, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni still saw India fall three runs short. Jadeja was never again sent so high in the batting order in any format of the game, vs any opposition.

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Conclusion

The above statistics is not to say that Jadeja must be dropped. But surely this gives a thought that Jadeja and Ashwin shouldn’t be guaranteed starters in limited over games only for their Test match feats or that they can ‘bat a bit’. Personally I feel Ashwin should only play test matches and do everything to keep his world’s best test match player status intact.

In limited overs Internationals, we already have the desired team balance with Hardik Pandya improving in every outing. It maybe a good time to check out our wrist spinners inventory, as Rahul Dravid suggested, and get them into World Cup 2019 plans.

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Images of the Bumrah no-ball and what could have been will haunt Indian cricket fans for years just as the T20 World Cup 2009 semis no-balls do
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6 thoughts on “Cricket: Is it time for Team India to look beyond Jadeja and Ashwin in LOIs?

  1. Cricket being a game of uncertainties,nothing can be taken for granted.A loss is understandable,but the way the indian think tank became clueless against a hotter like fakhar is beyond comprehension.similarly the way indians fell to imran is also tough to digest,that too on a chase!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow
    In depth analysis, I honestly recommend to BCCI to have panel of analyst like you for the opinion and strategy. May be different way to engage expertise for the betterment of any kind of sports in India

    Keep going mate, you are wonderful and love you

    Liked by 1 person

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