Ravichandran Ashwin has undoubtedly India’s most successful bowler across conditions in the past 18 months or so. The 30-year-ol has reinvented himself from someone who tried to experiment too much with variations to a spinner who now purely focusses on his basics to achieve success and the change in approach has surely paid dividends for him.
However, everything was not as well as it now for him in the season of 2013-14. After tormenting the Australians on home soil in India’s 4-0 triumph at home at the start of 2013 and then playing an important role in the Men in Blue’s win at the Champions Trophy in England, the off-spinner lost his sting in South Africa,where chasing 458 in the fourth innings, the Proteas negated his spin very effectively.
Ashwin bowled a mere 6 overs in the first innings, but more crucially, went wicket less in the 36 overs that he delivered in the second, as India had to settle for a draw after having dominated for most part of the game.
That performance meant that Ravindra Jadeja was preferred for the next game and every Test after that until the fourth Test against England in Manchester in August 2014, where MS Dhoni played both him and Jadeja in the playing XI.
Admittedly disappointed over being ignored to play for India in whites, the bowler went back to the basics and after months of hard work converted himself into a classical off-spinner, who relied upon his stock ball, which was the off-spinner for his wickets.
The result: 62 wickets in 9 Tests in 2015 and 28 in 6 Tests in 2016, as of now.
"I had seen an article ... where (it was) said that an all-time great (de Villiers) and a modern-day great (du Plessis) had denied India. Yes, that's true, but I want to be bigger than both of them. If I want that, I have to beat them in that battle. But I couldn't. So I needed to get better and push ahead.
"The criticism that came out of that game got the better of me. It told me that I wasn't good enough and that I needed to improve. It made me raise my standards,” Ashwin was quoted as saying to cricket.com.au.
”I want to be the match-winner every time I play. Whether I bat or bowl, that doesn't change. I don't think like I'm an off-spinner. I think I can beat anything - beat the conditions, beat the batsmen," he added.
It indeed has been a superb turnaround in fortunes for the off-spinner and he will hope that in the long, upcoming home season, he continues to deliver the goods for India and helps them win matches, just as he wishes to do so.