India's tour of New Zealand is in its last leg, with a 2-match Test series left to be played. India has won only 5 out of 23 Tests in New Zealand. India has just a solitary win in New Zealand in the last 43 years i.e. in 2009 and will look for looking to improve their record in New Zealand in Tests.
It will be interesting to see whether India will go ahead with Ravindra Jadeja or Ravichandran Ashwin as their frontline spinner for the Test series. In all likelihood, they will field 3 pacers in the Tests and either Jadeja or Ashwin will get a place in the playing 11.The Jadeja-Ashwin combination has been lethal in sub-continent conditions. However, outside Asia, the duo have not exactly been impressive.
In 13 Tests outside Asia since 2013, Jadeja has picked up 41 wickets at an average of 37.04. During the same period, Ashwin has played 17 Tests and picked up 56 wickets at an average of 34.12. Both Jadeja and Ashwin have been handy batsmen and have scored vital runs for India in the past. Jadeja averages 27.65 with the bat overseas since 2013 and Ashwin averages 28.72 during the same period.
Jadeja has played 2 Tests in New Zealand and in 3 innings, he has scored 82 runs at an average of 41. With the ball, he has not been very effective and has picked up only 3 wickets at an average of 85.67 in New Zealand. Ashwin on the other hand has till date not played a Test in New Zealand.
Jadeja has been the man in form in 2019. In 8 Tests and 10 innings in 2019, the left handed all-rounder scored 441 runs at an average of 62.86 which included 5 half centuries. He also picked up 21 Test wickets at average of 34.52 in 2019. Ashwin on the other hand, did not contribute much with the bat in 2019 and in 3 Test innings, he averaged just 12. He picked up 20 wickets in 2019 at an average of 24.15.
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Jadeja is an excellent fielder and can with his fielding skills cause a run-out or take a brilliant catch at any point of the game. Though Ashwin has been marginally better than Jadeja with the ball, his batting has not been really impressive in the near past. He is not very athletic on the field which may be a reason for his non-selection in the playing 11.
Coming back to the Test series against New Zealand, Jadeja might be preferred to Ashwin as he outscores Ashwin in the batting and the fielding departments by far. He is not very far as compared to Ashwin in the bowling department too. Add to this, Jadeja has been in New Zealand for more than a month and has actual match practice as he was a part of the T20 and ODI team.
Another factor which may be useful in selection of Jadeja in the playing 11 is that he is a left handed batsman and the top 6 batsmen in the Indian team are right handers, and hence, the presence of a left handed batsman in the lower middle order may be handy.
The Test series in New Zealand will be a perfect opportunity for Jadeja to establish his place in the playing 11 as the number 1 spinner when India plays outside the sub-continent.