South Africa’s performance analyst Prasanna Agoram has predicted that Ravichandran Ashwin will pick at least 20 wickets in the four Tests in South Africa. Agoram has worked with the Indian off-spinner in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL).
A lot of Ravichandran Ashwin’s game is mental. Agoram credited Ashwin’s ‘experience’ and ‘intelligence’ for being able to adapt. The 34-year-old played a critical role in India’s Adelaide Test win in 2018-19 season after which he lost his place in the side due to an injury.
Speaking to Indian Express on Ashwin’s plans, Agoram said: “He will bowl a lot more overspin in Australia this series. In Australia, the order of traits needed by a spinner is as follows: trajectory, length, speed, and line. The ideal length is six metres from the batsman, full enough to make him feel he can drive but just about dipping short."
"The ideal line is fourth stump – not too far outside off as they will drill you through the off, and not too straight as they can easily work you to the legside," he added.
Agoram believes Ravichandran Ashwin’s bowling speed, which is usually around the 82 kmph mark, is good for Australian conditions.
“If he can vary the pace in the 80s with the occasional quick one or a real slow one, and focus on overspin, he can beat the batsmen in the air,” Agoram said.
The upcoming Test series will be Ravichandran Ashwin’s fourth tour of Australia. In the seven Tests he has played Down Under, Ashwin has 27 wickets at just over 48. In contrast, Nathan Lyon has played 11 Tests against the Indians in Australia, picking 51 wickets at almost 34.
Ravichandran Ashwin is likely to play the Adelaide Test in absence of Ravindra Jadeja
With Ravindra Jadeja out of the Adelaide Test, Ravichandran Ashwin is the favorite to make the cut. Having played the pink-ball Test against Bangladesh last year, he bowled only five overs in the match and didn’t claim a wicket. With his guile and experience, Ashwin will look to improve his record in Australia and make a statement with the Kookaburra pink ball.
“In the Pink-ball Test on a slow Adelaide track, you might see him try even leg-spin and carrom balls,” Agoram says. “It’s not his T20 game coming in but it would be a calculated move as the pink Kookaburra has a black seam which can get difficult to pick in lights in the last session, and can be exploited by wrist spinners.”
Further elaborating on the tactic of overspin, Agoram said overspin won’t make the ball turn a lot in Australia as it does in India, but it will help a bowler beat the batsman in the air. The extra bounce generated aided with angles could prove crucial to produce bat-pad catches.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s form will hold the key for India. Like for many other teammates, this tour will test Ravichandran Ashwin and mark his legacy as an all-condition bowler.
“Can’t Bowl too straight, can’t bowl too wide, got to make them drive. There will be lots of dot balls in Australia but also lots of fours as Aussies can cut or play that pick-up flick shot on the leg that they all look for against off-spinners as they can trust the bounce and turn," Agoram predicted.
"You have to get it perfect for long periods to succeed, but I think Ashwin has the skill and the heart for it. My bet is that he will take at least 20 wickets,” Agoram said as he backed the ace off-spinner to excel in Australia.
Making his Test debut in 2011-12 season, Ravichandran Ashwin has 365 wickets from 71 Tests at 25.43. He has played 15 Tests against Australia, claiming 77 wickets at 31.89. He also has four Test centuries to his name.