Friday, 18 November 2011

Ashwin and Ojha- India's new age Bhajji and Kumble!

India has clinched the 3 match test series against West Indies by winning the 2nd test comprehensively by an innings and 15 runs. India posted a massive total in the first innings for the first time since the England series and then bowled out West Indies twice to wrap up the proceedings.  Ashwin and Ojha performed brilliantly in both innings accounting for 10 of the 20 WI wickets. They performed well in the first test at Delhi as well taking a bagful of wickets to give India the victory despite an ordinary batting performance by India. With Harbhajan dropped from the team and Kumble retired 2 years back, Are Ashwin and Ojha towards becoming the new age spin duo of Bhajji and Kumble of the last decade?

Performance in the current series-  If performance in the current series is to go by, Ashwin and Ojha have been simply brilliant. In the first test at Delhi, Ojha picked up 6-72 in the first and 1-37 in the 2nd innings while Ashwin picked up 3-81 in the first and 6-47 in the 2nd innings with the spinners taking 16 of the 20 wickets on a deteriorating pitch. In the 2nd test at Kolkata, Ojha picked up 4-64 in the first and 2-104 in the 2nd innings while Ashwin picked up 2-49 in first and 2-137 in the 2nd innings on a good batting track. Ashwin and Ojha have consistently bowled a good line and length and have been successful in stopping the run flow as well as building pressure on the batsman to pick up wickets. It is refreshing to see both of them bowl attacking lines with 4-5 fielders surrounding the batsman. They have picked up wickets at regular intervals and have evoked memories of an Indian spin duo dominating a match at home after almost 3-4 years.

Career stats- Bhajji and Kumble have had a lot of success in their careers. In combination they have broken the spines of the best of batsmen over the last decade. Kumble- India's leading and 3rd on all time wicket takers list has played 132 tests and has taken 619 wickets at an average of 29.65 with a 65.9 strike rate. Bhajji has played 98 tests and has taken 406 wickets at an average of 32.22 with a 68.1 strike rate. While Ashwin has played only 2 tests and has taken 13 wickets at an average of 24.15 with a 47.3 strike rate, Ojha has played in 13 tests and has taken 55 wickets at an average of 35.89 with a 75.5 strike rate. Bhajji and Kumble have iconic careers and it would be difficult to fill their boots. Ashwin and Ojha have a lot of work to do before they can emulate Harbhajan and Kumble's success.

Future- Kumble has retired and Bhajji owing to a loss in form has been dropped. India is looking towards youngsters in the bowling department and so that means Ojha and Ashwin are India's most promising spin prospects. India as a test team has always flourished when it has spinners in top form. From 2007 to 2010 India had a golden period in test cricket and much of this was due to Harbhajan and Kumble's success. Even after Kumble's retirement till the time Bhajji was in top form India flourished. As soon as Bhajji showed signs of decline India succumbed to that big defeat in England. Now once again good performance from Indian spinners, this time Ashwin and Ojha have brought back good times for Indian cricket. In the present scenario, it seems Bhajji would not find a place in India's tour down under this year, so it is important that Ashwin and Ojha are trusted and both respond positively to the trust bestowed so that India once again rise to the top in the Test arena. Both Ashwin and Ojha are good bowlers but their real test would be against Australia in seamer friendly conditions. The future is here and who knows Ashwin and Ojha might well be the new age Harbhajan and Kumble.

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