One hopes Ashwin doesn't go the way of Irfan

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 29, 2011 10:24 hrs
​Match in Images: India vs West Indies, Day 3

So, another series and again a no-show by Sachin, in the context of his century of centuries. I suppose, he will find it far more satisfying to get to the landmark in Australia this winter and by any yardstick, the achievement will receive a far bigger profile, considering the quality of opposition.

As Dhoni likes to say, Sachin will get there when he gets there and until then, one has to get on with it. The three-match series against the Windies threw up a new star in R Ashwin. Frankly, I am least surprised that the offie made his mark in his debut series itself.

I recall a conversation I had with Woorkeri Raman couple of years ago at the MCC bar in Chennai when he told me: "Watch out for Ashwin. He is Test match material and a very intelligent boy. He can also bat."

A few stools next to me sat S Venkataraghavan who nodded in agreement and said Ashwin had visited him requesting that he watch him at the nets. Venkat was impressed and that takes something.

Raman had made a similar prediction about Murali Vijay who eventually broke into the Test team, but it is another matter that the opener did not capitalize on the chances he was given.

Anyway, I was happy for young Ashwin and he couldn't have chosen a better way to celebrate his wedding with 22 wickets and a century to boot besides the Man of the Series award. I have a sneaking feeling that he could well be the all-rounder India have been looking for, though I pray that he won't go the way of Irfan Pathan.

Irfan was also hailed as a quality all-rounder, but was badly handled by the likes of coach Greg Chappell who sent him up the order as a pinch-hitter and eventually, poor Irfan knew not whether he focus on bowling or batting. That confusion ruined his international career.

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For Ashwin, being selected for the tour of Australia is a massive break and deserving too, though it has come at the expense of Harbhajan. The experienced Sardar will now have to work that much harder to regain his spot in the Indian team, for Ashwin is looking increasingly settled at the highest level.

I am not surprised at Yuvraj's omission, though it is a pity that such a talented player is unable to hold his place in the squad. Overall, it augurs well for Indian cricket that the selectors desisted from shuffling the squad for the Australia series and I am particularly happy for the two young fast bowlers, Aaron and Yadav, both of whom impressed on pitches that were anything but friendly to their type of bowling. Both should enjoy the fast and bouncy tracks in Australia where if they keep their wits about, they should be quite a handful.

Likewise, it is heartening to see Ishant bouncing back and he would be looking forward to the trip to Australia where it had all begun for this tall fast bowler nearly four years ago when he announced his arrival with some fiery spells, something that Ponting will vouch for!

As for the series just concluded, my sympathies are with the West Indies, for they were beaten but certainly not disgraced. Their inconsistency, be it in batting or bowling, and not so much their collective and comparative inexperience, let them down eventually.

The Windies could have run India far closer than they did on occasions during the Test series, but for sure, there is a lot of potential in the young squad though a lot would depend on how talent is groomed and nurtured.

The 5-0 ODI series win against England followed by the 2-0 Test drubbing of the Windies would have put the Indian fans in good heart after the "brownwash" in England this summer that has all but receded from public memory.

So now, on to the ODI series that is likely to be keenly fought, though I suspect that the Windies would have to play out of their skins to take the rubber.

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