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Ravichandran Ashwin working on new variation ahead of South Africa tour

New Zealand v India
A comeback on the cards?

What's the story?

In a bid to reclaim his spot in the Indian limited-overs sides, after having been overlooked in recent times, Ravichandran Ashwin has begun developing yet another variation which he intends to unveil when India embark on their tour of South Africa in January.

Ashwin, one of the best exponents of off-spin on the planet, plans to add leg-spin to his arsenal as well ahead of the Test series in South Africa. With an action resembling Indian legend Anil Kumble's, Ashwin was seen fine-tuning his new variation in a VAP Trophy match against Grand Slam on Thursday.

In case you didn't know...

Ashwin last played for India in an ODI way back in June, against the West Indies. While he has notched 150 wickets in the format, his struggles with the white ball are well-documented and he recently lost his place to Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

The heart of the matter

Ashwin delivered six overs of leg-spin in the game against Grand Slam, picking up two wickets in the process. Starting off his spell with his traditional off-spinners, the 31-year-old soon changed his method of attack, after just three overs. He was able to extract quite a lot of purchase from the wicket, with his turn and bounce becoming quite tricky to handle in the end. Despite bowling to top-quality batsmen in N Jagadeesan and Bharghav Merai, Ashwin was able to deliver nine economical overs in total.

"I knew Ashwin was working on leg spin. He was discussing it during the Ranji nets. He did bowl the odd leggie against Andhra and Mumbai. I had kept wickets for him. But his accuracy is excellent," Jagadeesan said to Times of India after the match.

"He bowled googlies and executed the faster one with good control. As a batsman, you can't get away from him. His height is an advantage and he did generate bounce," he added.

What's next?

Ashwin is hoping to perfect his new skill before the South Africa series that begins January 5. A mainstay in the Indian Test setup, the offie will be eager to return to the limited-overs sides now that he has a whole new ace up his sleeve.

Author's take

Ashwin is already armed with a number of variations and none of them seem to work in the shorter formats of the game. Even if his all-new leg-spin is on the money in the Test series against the Proteas, it is unlikely he will make a return to the ODI or T20I side seeing the amount of success Kuldeep and Chahal have had in the past year or so.

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Edited by Arvind Sriram
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