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Learnt how to construct spells overseas: Ashwin

Indian off-spinner says looking for wickets in middle-overs no option on unfriendly pitches

Before he dismissed Corey Anderson in Auckland, R Ashwin went through a rare dry patch in international cricket – his last wicket had come on December 8, in the second ODI against South Africa. While India’s most prolific spinner in 2013 isn’t used to going wicketless for so long, he also understands that playing overseas will result in a change of role and reduction in the number of wickets.

"Honestly I was not reading or looking into anything," Ashwin said. "This is probably the best frame of mind I have been in. I have locked away a few things. I had a tour of South Africa which was quite a learning curve for me. I have decided if I am giving my best that is all I can do. I cannot go back reading articles and what people are saying about me. It does not make sense. I just locked myself out. I spoke to Dhoni about a couple of things, to the coach, had chats with a few people I trust. I thought things were going alright. It can happen, you cannot keep taking wickets or making runs all the time. The frame of mind I was in helped me perform the way I did,” Ashwin said, referring to his 65 in Auckland, his first ODI fifty, and bowlng figures of 10-0-47-1.

Admitting the new ODI rules have made life difficult for spinners, especially on wickets that don’t allow the ball to turn, Ashwin said the possibility of picking a few quick wickets in the middle-overs has reduced. "That particular thing falls out of the window with the current scenario. If there is spin and you are playing with the conditions helping you, then of course there is an opportunity to look to get a wicket but if it is stacked against you then you are fighting against something which is like a wall. You cannot box against a wall. You cannot fight against the conditions and go head on and take it on.

"You definitely tend to be targeted as a spinner away from home. With the five-fielder [within the circle] rule you can only look to give a single. You cannot err on lengths. The batsman knows if you have your sweeper up you are not going to err on the shorter side so you are giving away some cues to the batsman in terms of what field you are setting, and you cannot be foolish enough to try and fool the batsman. They are going to look for boundaries. You have to be really smart and try and make sure you do what the team requires. It is easy to say wickets are not coming so I will look for wickets, but you end up giving 20-30 runs extra and you have to get it back at the end of the day.”

However, the spinner said he has been working on alternate plans and learning the art of bowling overseas. “I have sorted out what length and what kind of bowling needs to be done. There are certain ways you need to construct a spell abroad. I have learnt that and put that into practice."

News

Preview: New Zealand vs India - 4th ODI

Indian bowlers need to step up in support of batsmen

What

Fourth ODI of the five-match series between New Zealand and India

When

Tuesday, January 28, 2014, (14:00 local | 01:00 GMT | 06:30 IST)

Where

Seddon Park, Hamilton, New Zealand

The Teams

India

Although winless in the series so far, India will not be short of confidence. After going down fighting in the first two ODIs, they came back stronger in the third to hold on for a tie. The fact that India have come so close to winning each time is to the credit of the gradually improved batting performance. However, the same cannot be said about their bowlers, who have left the batsmen a bit too much to do each time.

MS Dhoni has won all tosses so far and inserted New Zealand in, possibly to allow his bowlers to bowl without the pressure of defending a total. Although it hasn’t worked so far, it is likely the Indian captain will continue with the strategy if he calls the coin correctly in Hamilton, hence putting more responsibility on the batsmen.

New Zealand

The hosts will be happy if the fourth ODI pans out the way the last three did. Batting first, putting a sizeable total on board and then restricting the Indian batsmen just enough, will give them a series win. However, the bowlers will be wary of the Indian batsmen who have regained their touch as the series has progressed. India’s lower-order assault in Auckland means the Kiwi bowlers will ensure not to let the hook off until the very end.

Key Players

India

The spinners were the key performers for India in the last match, with the ball and bat. On the Hamilton wicket, that is traditionally on the slower side, they will again play a crucial role. The primary job of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be to maintain a stranglehold in the middle-overs, hence forcing the Kiwi batsmen to take more chances against the pacers in the death overs.

New Zealand

While the likes of Corey Anderson and Martin Guptill have hogged the spotlight with superlative performances, there’s one man who has silently gone about scoring fifties in all three matches. Without any flashiness, Kane Williamson is the top-scorer of the series so far with 213 runs, providing solidity to the Kiwi top-order, at No. 3. India must eye his wicket early to expose the middle-order.

Statistics

Matches at Hamilton

Mts

Won

Lost

NR

Won%

New Zealand

18

12

5

1

66.66

India

7

2

5

0

28.57

 

Result summary:

Won by side batting 1st

Won by side batting 2nd

NR

Overall (21)

8

12

1

Last 5 matches

3

2

0

 

 

 

 

Pace vs Spin

(last 5 matches)

 

Wkts

Avg

RPO

4W

Pace

58

32.41

5.82

2

Spin

13

50.00

5.03

1

 

Average first innings score

Overall (21)

234

Last 5 matches

281

 

Trivia

In last 20 consecutive ODIs outside the sub-continent Indian captains have opted to field first after winning the toss. India won 11 and lost 8 of those games, while one match was tied.

New Zealand have not lost more than two wickets at the end of 30th over in the three matches so far. The least India have lost at the same stage are four!

MS Dhoni needs 80 runs to complete 8000 runs in one-day internationals. He will become seventh Indian and 26th batsman in ODIs to accomplish this feat. Dhoni will be the fourth quickest in terms of innings to reach this mark after Sourav Ganguly (200), Sachin Tendulkar (210) and Brian Lara (211).

The Squads

India: M.S. Dhoni (Capt/wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra,  Ishwar Pandey, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron.

New Zealand:  Brendon McCullum (capt/wk), Corey Anderson, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Hamish Bennett, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson.