#INDvAUS | Ashwin and Jadeja: India's untiring spin machines – Kohli says he has to give extended bowling spells to Ashwin, Jadeja to take advantage of conditions
Spinners Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin (Right) have been a force to reckon with in the white flannels (PTI)
A lot of similarities can be drawn from the way the Chennai Test against England last December and the just-finished Ranchi Test against Australia panned out. Except for the end result.
England batted first on a good surface and posted 477. Here, Australian batsmen made the first use of the pitch to post a challenging 451. India outbatted the opposition in both the Tests, rattling up scores of 759/7 and 603/9, respectively, before declaring the innings closed on both the matches in the penultimate evening.
But on the final day, England collapsed from four down at tea time to give India an innings victory. A repeat of Chennai was what the Indians hoped for here. But, Australia, also four down entering the Test's final session, hung out admirably in the middle, led by the experienced Shaun Marsh and the rookie Peter Handscomb to carve out a deserving draw.
Another similarity between the two Tests was in the way the spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja bowled. The Saurashtra left-arm spinner outperformed the record-breaking off-spinner from the Chennai Test. So much so that made captain Virat Kohli said on Monday, "Jadeja's bowling was outstanding in this match. In my opinion, Jadeja was the standout. If you look at his economy on this pitch, it was high-class bowling and showed why he is the joint No. 1 (Test) bowler alongside Ashwin."
No doubt, in the last few Tests, Jadeja has outperformed Ashwin by miles as he did in Ranchi. Jadeja had match figures of 9/178 at an economy rate of 1.90 as against Ashwin's corresponding figures of 2/185 at 3.08.
Jadeja's consistency helped him first to share the No. 1 Test bowlers' rank with Ashwin and then upstage him on Tuesday to take the sole position on top, pushing the off-spinner to second.
From the Chennai Test, Jadeja has taken 37 wickets including three five-wicket in an innings in two winning causes (Chennai and Bengaluru) while Ashwin has scalped 24 in the same number of Tests with one five-wicket haul – in the second innings in Bengaluru to hasten Australia's downfall.
One may point out the finger at the workload of Ashwin in the last 16 Tests that India have played since July 2016 in the West Indies. The 30-year-old Ashwin has played in all the Tests India have played in the last eight months till date and sent down 832.3 overs. That is a hell a lot of overs. In terms of the number of balls delivered, it comes out to 4,995. It is that many times his right arm has rotated in Test cricket.
Include the countless number of times he has rolled over his arm in the nets and one can imagine the strain his shoulder must have gone through in the last eight months. Pray that he does not break down because of the workload.
But, the same holds true for Jadeja. He is no machine to just come and bowl without any strain. The burden is equally the same for Jadeja. Though he played in only one Test in the West Indies, he has sent down 713.5 overs, or 4,283 deliveries in 13 Tests. But when you look from the time the home season began against New Zealand in September, Ashwin and Jadeja have played in all the 12 Tests so far, and bowled 701.3 overs (4,209 balls) and 684.2 overs (4,106 balls), respectively.
Ashwin and Jadeja may be the most worn-out Indian Test bowlers in a season. Kohli did feel that the workload was too much but one cannot help but bowl them the maximum in conditions that suit them. Asked how he would manage the workloads of Ashwin and Jadeja, Kohli said on Monday: "We have got to see how many games we want to play them in terms of shorter formats and going forward if we have a hectic season because they are a very valuable Test bowlers for us.
"That is the only way you can manage workloads because during a game, you can't think of the fact that they have bowled 3,000 balls in a season and I need to make him stop because if you want to win a game, you need to push guys.
"So, I think it is different formats when they arrive. That is where you can manage workloads and you certainly want to look into it. We have done that in the past as well. And, that's certainly going to be followed in the future because you need to maintain a core group of Test bowlers that you need all the time and it is not a difficult thing to do. But yes, one should be aware of that."