The preliminary stage of IPL 2019 is nearing its end with a handful of games left for all the franchises. CSK once again sit pretty at the crest of the points table followed by Mumbai Indians. Delhi and Punjab are in the 3rd and 4th spots respectively.
Spin has always played a great part in T20s and this year is no exception. One such spinner who is having a great season is KXIP skipper Ravichandran Ashwin. His performance against RR where he took the crucial wickets of Samson and Tripathi changed the momentum towards Punjab. That does not end here, his 4-ball 17 helped KXIP to reach 182 which gave his team a psychological advantage. Such small contributions matter in a short format like T20s which Ashwin lacked in the previous season (2018).
Let’s analyze his performance, comparing his 2018 with 2019 and how he became a strike force from a containing option. In this IPL Ashwin looked a totally different bowler which can be credited to the pitches being a little slow and conducive to spin bowling but that doesn’t mean we can snatch anything from the way Ashwin has performed.
Clearly, his performance in the middle overs is what has made the difference for the team. Ashwin has not only managed to choke the run-rate but has also taken wickets at regular intervals, thereby pushing opposition onto the back foot. In fact after Tahir (8.6 %) and Gopal (9.25 %), he has conceded the least amount of boundaries (9.52 %) amongst spinners who have bowled a minimum of 100 balls in the mid-phase.
Effective usage of Carrom Ball
In 2019 Ashwin was clever with his variation - the Carrom ball to good effect. A Carrom ball is a delivery bowled by flicking the ball between the thumb and a bent middle/index finger to spin the ball. The release is similar to the action of flicking the striker in a game of carom, and hence, the delivery derived its name from it. In 2019 not only did he bowl more Carrom balls but made sure that most of them were hitting the stumps while that was not the case in 2018. In 2018 he accounted for just three wickets with the carrom ball whereas in 2019 so far he has already taken seven wickets with the carrom ball.
For an off-spinner the best line is to bowl outside the off stump channel thereby enticing the batsmen to play against the spin and induce false strokes. In 2018, he could only induce 6.9 % false strokes while bowling around the off stump channel while in 2019 so far he has already managed to induce 10 % false shots.
KXIP are now placed 3rd in the points table with 10 points in their kitty and if they have to make the playoffs Ashwin’s role becomes very vital. KXIP will face Delhi in their next encounter and given the slow nature of Kotla, Ashwin should relish bowling there and give another match-winning performance.