Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has turned to be the tormentor-in-chief for Michael Clarke-led Australian team. Ashwin has bagged 18 wickets, taking his career-best match haul in the first Test at Chennai (7 for 103 and 5 for 95). The 26-year-old followed it up with six wickets in the second Test at Hyderabad.
Off-spinners have always been a problem for the Australians. In the past, Erappali Prasanna, Shivlal Yadav and even Harbhajan Singh had the Aussies hopping. Ian Chappell went on to say Prasanna was the best off-spinner he had come across. The duel between Indian off-spinners and Australian batsmen has often been a fascinating battle. Former Test off-spinner Arshad Ayub said it has a long history and the Indian offies have often come out trumps.
“In the past, the Australians would use their bat and pad which often brought them trouble, particularly when the ball turned a little more. The classic case was Ricky Ponting, the world’s best batsman in his time. He was never comfortable against Harbhajan in India. Of course, he had problems while facing the incoming deliveries. But few batsmen like Michael Clarke, who uses his feet very well, often played the off-spinners confidently. For left-handers, with the ball turning from middle to off, the off-spinners had the advantage to take the ball away. Even on the bouncy tracks of Australia, the extra bounce helped the Indian off-spinners, the catch off bat and pad would go to silly point or short leg fielders,” he said.
“Clarke, Alastair Cook, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers are very good batsmen against spin or pace. It is a question of adaptability and Clarke is a sweet timer of the ball. Interestingly, he has been out thrice already to left-arm spinner Jadeja. Other Australian batsmen should learn to play like Clarke. It needs a lot of patience. Strong defence and shot selections are important,” he said.
WV Raman said with the Australians being aggressive in nature, often fall to the guile of the off-spinners. “Prasanna was a master in deceiving the batsmen with his looping deliveries. He said Australia had some great batsmen like Bobby Simpson, the Chappell brothers (Ian and Greg), Allan Border, Dean Jones, Steve Waugh, Damien Martyn and Matthew Hayden who had success against the off-spinners with their good technique.
They had good defence too. “Some of these batsmen employed different tactics and were successful with the sweep shots. Among the present lot, Clarke is a superb player against spin bowler. He steps out and drives through the line. Clarke plays straight even sometimes taking the aerial route,” he said, adding, “playing against good quality spin is an art and the young Australians have to learn by experience and by some hard work at the nets.”