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Mohammad Azharuddin decodes R Ashwin's rich form

India Today logo India Today 21-10-2016
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Ravichandran Ashwin's rise as a Test match bowler has been meteoric since the 2015 World Cup. The off-spinner has, over the last year, won four successive man-of-the-series against Sri Lanka, South Africa and New Zealand. He is currently on top of the ICC's rankings for Test bowlers and his 220 wickets in 39 matches is testimony to his wicket-taking skills on all kinds of pitches.

There was some criticism after India engaged South Africa last year in a four-Test series on pitches that turned square from the first day. But in all fairness, the 30-year-old has shown his mettle on pitches in the West Indies, where the ball did not turn much.

Former India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin, under whose leadership, current coach Anil Kumble blossomed at home and spelt trouble for visiting batsmen, felt Ashwin has reached that stage in his career, where he can pick wickets even on pitches that were not particularly tailor-made for spinners.

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One of the key factors behind Ashwin's success, Azhar reckoned, was his tendency to now bowl within himself and not experiment too much.

"I think from the last World Cup, Ashwin's bowling has totally changed. He is bowling a good line and length," Azhar told indiatoday.in.

"He is not trying too much and bowling well within himself. Once you start bowling well within yourself, you would try and bowl better, think better and I think the way he has performed over the last year, in the previous series also, I think he will go on to win many more matches for India and hopefully perform on pitches where spin is not very conducive."

Ashwin has been rested for the first three ODIs against New Zealand but he will key when the Test series against England gets underway next month.

Meanwhile, Azhar hailed Virat Kohli as one of the finest batsmen in the world. The 27-year-old has been in sensational form this year, scoring runs across all formats. But his biggest challenge could come in England, where the swinging ball troubled him in 2014.

However, Azhar felt Kohli would be able to overcome that problem given the kind of form he is in.

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"Kohli has proved time and again that he is one of finest players in the world at the moment and I only feel that maybe on a wicket where the ball is swinging, he might struggle a little bit but with the form he is in... if he can continue like that... I think he will overcome that as well," he said.

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Azhar also lauded the Board of Control for Cricket in India for finally deciding to try the Decision Review System (DRS). The technology has been upgraded and Indian officials seemed satisfied after a recent meeting with members of the International Cricket Council.

"I would say it's a very good idea. They should have decided on the DRS long back. I think I said it two or three years back also because if you see there are so many close games India have lost on foreign soil.

"Had we had the DRS system, those decisions would have got in our favour and we would have won so many games. But I think It's a good idea and I really feel common sense has prevailed now and hope they take a positive stand on DRS," Azhar said.

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