India has historically produced some of the world’s best spinners. Indian cricket has been blessed with quality spinners in their Test lineup, from the renowned spin quartet of the 1960s and 1970s to the illustrious spin duo of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh in the 2000s and the world-class spin attack of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Axar Patel.
In Asian conditions, it is essential to have spinners who can also bowl well with a new ball. On some pitches, the new ball tends to have more bounce and helps spin. However, a spinner needs to have a lot of control over his line and length in order to be skilled with the new ball.
We look at three Indian bowlers who have shown that they can handle both kinds of balls.
One of the best spin bowlers currently playing in Test cricket is unquestionably Ashwin. He has a perfect track record: 447 wickets at an average of 24.26 and a strike rate of 52.4 were taken in 88 Test matches. Despite the numbers, he is without a doubt one of the savviest cricketers the game has ever seen.
His record with the first new ball is 69 wickets in 526.5 overs at an average of 20.93 and a strike rate of 45.81. Since ball-by-ball data became available in 2002, this is the most wickets a spinner has taken in this phase.
His dismissal of former England captain Alastair Cook with the new ball in both innings of the Edgbaston Test in 2018 is fondly remembered by Indian fans.
He has dismissed 26 batters in 219 overs with the second new ball (overs 81-95) at an average of 22 and a strike rate of 50, which ranks third among Indian bowlers in this phase of the game.
One of the most underappreciated Test cricketers of this generation is undoubtedly Ravindra Jadeja. His bowling record is comparable to that of the best spinners of all time, in addition to having a respectable record with the bat.
In 60 Test matches for India, he has taken 242 wickets at an average of 24.71 and a strike rate of 60.9. He is a very exact bowler – an economy pace of 2.43 proposes something similar.
Jadeja has a great record with the new ball. With the first new ball, he has bowled nearly 180 overs and taken 17 wickets at an average of 27.50 runs per wicket. Jadeja’s performance with the second new ball has been outstanding.
In 172.4 overs, he has taken 19 wickets at an average of 18.58 and a strike rate of 54.03 During this phase of a Test match, he gives up just over 2 runs per over.
The overall track record of Jadeja’s career suggests that he is also exceptional with the old ball, which is his primary role in Test match bowling. In Asian conditions, he is a captain’s dream and a very good fifth bowling option in conditions that don’t help spin (like England and New Zealand, for example). He has made a grand showing with containing run-scoring across conditions in the organization.
In his brief Test career, Axar Patel has had a significant impact on the Indian team. He has taken 44 wickets in eight Test matches at a strike rate of 36.9 and an average of 13.72. In the format, he only concedes 2.22 runs per over and has performed admirably for Team India in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja.
With the first new ball, Axar has taken 11 of his 44 wickets. His normal is a stunning 8.18 runs for every excusal, an economy pace of 1.91 runs per over, and a strike rate of 25.64. During the February-March 2021 Test series between India and England, his dominance with the new ball was on display.
With the old ball, Axar Patel is a workhorse because he has shown the ability to bowl long spells early in his Test career. The way their captains use him in red-ball cricket is very similar to that of Ravindra Jadeja.
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