Team India head coach Rahul Dravid has revealed that seasoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was always a part of their plans in ODIs in case of injury issues or an opening arising in the team. Like skipper Rohit Sharma before him, Dravid also asserted that Ashwin can make up for lack of game time in the 50-over format given the kind of experience that he possesses.
Ashwin, who recently turned 37, has been named in the Indian ODI squad for the home series against Australia, which begins on Friday. The off-spinner was handed a comeback after Axar Patel, who picked up a left quadriceps strain during the Asia Cup Super 4 match against Bangladesh and was ruled out of the first two matches of the series against Australia.
At a pre-series press conference, Dravid was asked about the rationale behind going back to Ashwin although he has hardly played any ODI cricket over the last few years.
The former India captain explained:
“Having someone of Ashwin’s experience to come back is always good for us. Ashwin provides you that experience, that ability to be able to also contribute with the bat at No.8 and is someone that we always thought of in case there were certain injuries or certain opportunities opened up."
"He was definitely someone who was always a part of our plans. I know he hasn’t played a lot of one-day cricket over the last bit, but someone of his experience probably can deal with that really well,” the coach added.
The experienced off-spinner last represented India in an ODI in January 2022 in South Africa.
“Could be because of the rule change” - Dravid on lack of part-time bowlers
There was a time in Indian cricket when Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, and Virender Sehwag rolled their arm over and got a number of key wickets for the team. However, the scene has changed drastically in recent years and India have had to depend on frontline bowlers and genuine all-rounders to do the job.
Asked about the dying art of part-time bowling, Dravid attributed the change in rules as one of the reasons.
“I think it could also be because of the rule change. Suddenly, you have gone from four fielders inside the ring to five fielders. That has drastically changed the ability of part-time bowlers to be able to bowl through the middle phase. A lot of these guys started when there used to be only four fielders in the ring. In that kind of situation, you could use a lot of part-time bowlers. Not only us, a lot of teams did that,” he elaborated.
“If you would have noticed, the number of part-time bowlers have gone down in other teams as well. It’s not only in the Indian team. Partly, it’s because of two new balls. It’s becoming more and more difficult for part-time bowlers,” Dravid concluded.
Meanwhile, the three ODIs of the India-Australia series will be played in Mohali, Indore and Rajkot on September 22, 24, and 27.