Ravichandran Ashwin's magnificent spin bowling got India a win with a day to spare in the third and final Test match in Indore. What made it special was the fact that there was no extraordinary turn from the pitch but the variety in his deliveries and angles, and the speeds and spins imparted that spun the Kiwis to their doom. That there was nothing untoward in the pitch could be seen by the manner in which Cheteshwar Pujara and Gautam Gambhir had batted in the morning. The Kiwi collapse was brought about by spin bowling of the highest calibre. It was no surprise to see Ashwin win the man-of-the-series award yet again and the way this thoughtful cricketer is progressing he should win many more such awards in the years to come.
Typically those Indians who don’t like to see India winning were quick to suggest that Ashwin should be rated only when he picks wickets abroad. Why? Has anyone including these same Indians ever doubted the greatness of overseas players who haven't done well in India or the subcontinent? Has anyone questioned Dennis Lillee’s greatness because he has only one wicket in the subcontinent? Has anyone doubted Shane Warne for not getting heaps of wickets on Indian pitches or Ricky Ponting's batting ability for getting only one century in several tours of India? So why question Ashwin’s wickets and his place among the greats of the game?
Problem with these Indians is that they don’t like to see India winning for then there won’t be anything to criticise the Indian team, isn’t it? This team under Virat Kohli is taking giant strides as a unit that can do well in all conditions. They have been fortunate to have had the tough as nails guidance of Ravi Shastri for a couple of years and now under an equally ferocious competitor Anil Kumble as coach they will get better and better. The unassuming batting coach has begun to reconstruct the batting stances and forward press movements that the batsmen had suffered from under the former 'useless coach' and we are seeing results already with Pujara batting in a refreshing vein with his balance being restored. Ashwin who is a fast learner and wants to be in the thick of action with both bat and ball was virtually unplayable and the selectors have done well to give him and Ravindra Jadeja a break before the England Test series starts.
England have done well to clinch the one-day series against Bangladesh and they will be hoping to maintain the same kind of form in the Test series before they travel to neighbouring India for a five Test match series. In South Africa despite a valiant hundred from David Warner, Australia were unable to prevent the home team from scoring a clean sweep.
Ravichandran Ashwin for his outstanding bowling is the CEAT International Cricketer of the Week.