When India’s lead spinner is struggling for wickets, especially on turners, it has got to do with technique. Having been reduced to six wickets (against England) from being the man of the series (against New Zealand with 18 wickets), R Ashwin needs to sort out some things.
Who better than Ashwin’s coach, former left-arm spinner Sunil Subramanian, to address the situation? “What I’ve observed is the amount of changes he is making to his basics,” Subramanian said on Thursday. “His action is affecting his consistency vis-a-vis the length. Playing all the three formats, the Tests, T20 and ODIs, one has to keep changing the line, which is not a difficult thing to do. But the concept of length has changed over the three formats.”
The 45-year-old observed that Ashwin’s landing foot (left foot) went far across. “It is not aligning with the stumps regularly. If he goes that far away, towards square leg (for a right-hand batsman) rather than being straight and finishing at cover, his length will suffer. The man is so dexterous with his fingers and wrists that he compensates for length. If he has to bowl a probing spell, he has to be spot on in terms of length. He has been a bit off the radar this series.”
The only way Ashwin can address this issue is to go back to the nets. Subramanian said the Englishmen are technically superior. “The application shown by Cook (Alastair) and Pietersen (Kevin) is of the highest order. Cook didn’t allow himself to be beaten except when castled by Ojha. With that quality of defence, one has to be very probing. When Ashwin tries something, with his technique not in place, he has to be creative.”
Subramanian said he has been talking to Ashwin daily. “He has got the idea. It is a matter of practice, executing 300 balls at the nets to become consistent.”
Asked how Pragyan Ojha managed to pick up wickets (14), Subramanian said: “Left-arm spinner’s job is relatively easier. Left-arm spinners don’t experiment much, they bowl on the middle and off-stump with subtle changes. Off-spinners have to be creative.”
Subramanian hopes for improvement in Ashwin’s bowling in Kolkata. “He is mentally organised and tough for a challenge. Sometimes, he is too keyed up for a challenge,” Subramanian said.