India v Sri Lanka ODIs

Ashwin's bold white-ball plan

Leg-spin could be the key for Ravichandran Ashwin as he hunts for a way back into India's ODI team

Cricket Network

23 December 2017, 06:25 PM

When star off-spinner Ravi Ashwin bowled leggies to Steve Smith in the nets during last year's Indian Premier League, Australia's captain assumed the Indian was playing mind games.

But as he looks to find a way back into India's one-day team, it appears Ashwin is genuinely looking to build the leg-spinner into his repertoire.

According to a report in the Times of India, Ashwin, after sending down three fruitless overs of off-spin on Thursday in a domestic 50-over game in Chennai, made a successful switch to leg-spin.

The right-armer collected two wickets from the six overs of leggies he delivered, with his style said to be reminiscent of India's all-time leading Test wicket taker and former national coach Anil Kumble. 

While he's has been known to slip in the odd leg-spinner as a variation while playing for India, making a permanent swap to bowling over-the-wrist mid-match suggests Ashwin is building his arsenal in the hope of making a fresh case for inclusion in India's ODI side.

Ashwin, the fourth-ranked Test bowler in the world and one of India's first picked in the longest format, conceded 0-70 in their Champions Trophy final defeat to Pakistan and has been overlooked for India's last 18 ODIs.

Narayan Jagadeesan, one of Ashwin's victims in the VA Parthasarathy Memorial Trophy match on Thursday and a regular teammate at his Ranji Trophy (India's domestic four-day competition) side Tamil Nadu, said the record-breaking tweaker is a handful spinning them the other way.

"His accuracy is excellent," Jagadeesan told the Times of India.

"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.

"I knew Ashwin was working on leg spin. He was discussing about it during the Ranji (Trophy) nets. He did bowl the odd leggie against Andhra and Mumbai. I had kept wickets for him."

'Dangerous bowling' talk over the top: Smith

Smith, who played alongside Ashwin at IPL side Rising Pune Supergiant in 2016, thought Ashwin bowled leggies to him so as to not give the star batsman a glimpse of his capabilities ahead of Australia's Test tour of India.

"It's a little different facing (Ashwin) in the nets," Smith told Cricbuzz at the time.

"He bowled a lot of leg-spinners. Maybe, he was trying to not give too much away with his off-spinners."

But Ashwin denied the leggies were part of a ploy to hide his stock delivery, insisting it was part of his "skill development".

"That was not the intent," Ashwin told The New India Express.

"I'm definitely more phased out in the way I practice during the IPL. Bowling leg spin had to do with skill development.

"How much ever you study or practice against someone (doesn't matter compared to how you play), it boils down to the fact that you have to come out to the middle and replicate everything.

"I don't want to read much into it."

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