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Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23: Spin options for India apart from Ashwin if Jadeja misses out

Updated: Jan 15

Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23: Spin options for India apart from Ravichandran Ashwin if Ravindra Jadeja misses out due to injury. Who will pair with Ashwin on Australia tour of India 2022-23?

Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja took 427 wickets among them from 2013-2022 period _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI/Twitter)
Ashwin, Jadeja took 427 wickets among them from 2013-2022 period (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

The World Test Championship (WTC) 2021–23 is on the cusp of giving us the final two teams who would be at loggerheads at the Kennington Oval in England in June 2023. According to the results of the recently concluded Test matches, the two teams that are at the forefront of making it to the finals are Australia and the runners-up of WTC 2019-21 Final, India.


The fans will be treated to a spectacle as they watch the two cricket titans go head-to-head in a possible dress rehearsal before the finals, as India will host Australia for the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23, which will begin on February 9 at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium in Nagpur.


India scored distinction in bouncy conditions down under in 2018-19 & 2020-21, winning 2-1 on both occasions; will Australia pass spin test in India?

India who currently hold the Border Gavaskar trophy thanks to a meritorious 2-1 series victory down under in 2020-21. That comeback! That damned comeback, after being bowled out for 36 in the first Test in Adelaide, elevates that series win far above India's other overseas triumphs.


While India have breached Australia twice in consecutive series held in Kangaroo Land (2018–19 and 2020–21), Australia haven't been able to beat India in India since 2004–05, nearly 18 years since they last waved their flag by winning a Test series in India. This year too, the challenge will be different for Australia as India will be eyeing a victory in the series to ensure a spot in the WTC finals.


After thrashing Australia and breaching their ever-so-prestigious fortress at the Gabba, the Indian team stood up to the pace, the bounce and the bruises, but went on to be victorious in conditions favourable to the Australian team. And if India dominate against the pace and bounce in overseas conditions, Australia should be able to prove their mettle in Indian conditions. Afterall, it’s the battle towards becoming the best Test-playing nation in the world! If at all Australians want to prepare in advance for something, it should be "Spin, Spin, and some more Spin."


Read More: India’s upper order (1-3) woes in Tests: Only Rohit Sharma has batting average of 45+ in WTC 2021-23


India’s Ideal Spin Combination: Who will spearhead the attack in tandem with Ashwin?

India, on the other hand, will leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of dismissing Australia’s batters. If Australia's pace and bounce made India duck, Indian bowlers will make Australian batters put on their dancing shoes to face India's blood-curdling spin attack. The four-match Test series will be played in Nagpur, Delhi, Dharamsala and Ahmedabad, all pretty much on spin-friendly wickets because, well, it’s India. What else were the Aussies expecting? Afterall?


However, with India, the challenge is different this time around as India’s torch-bearing all-rounder, Mr Ravindra Jadeja, is likely to miss the Test series, or even if he gets fit in time before the squad is announced, India would not want to risk him given there is an ODI World Cup later this year. India’s likely options are Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, or if Indian selectors decide to go back to the roots in domestic cricket, spinners like Shams Mulani, Kumar Kartikeya, Shahbaz Nadeem, Jalaj Saxena and Mayank Mishra, who have been knocking on the doors of the Indian red ball team with steady performances in Ranji Trophy season after season.


Read More: Shreyas Iyer: India’s Spiderman who counters the spinners’ web with ease

Ind vs NZ - 1st Test, Day 3, Kanpur - Axar Patel's fifer, Ashwin's 3-fer reduce New Zealand to 296; India 63 ahead (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)
Axar took 39 wickets from 12 innings in Tests from Jan 2017 (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Crunching the numbers

So, the question that now arises is, "Who will be India’s second and third spinners?" Ravichandran Ashwin, without a doubt, will be licking his lips to spin a web around the Aussies. According to previous Test match statistics, Axar Patel is India's third-highest wicket-taker in Test matches in India between January 2017 and January 2023 with 39 wickets in just 12 innings at a blistering strike rate of 33.5. Patel’s strike rate is also the best by any Indian spinner in the said duration, with the second-best being Kuldeep Yadav (39.8), followed by Ravichandran Ashwin (46.9). As per the numbers and an apple-to-apple replacement, Axar Patel is almost certain to play in the four-match Test series, if Ravindra Jadeja fails to recover in time.


A look at India’s top 4 spinners’ performance in Indian conditions since January 2017.

Player

Innings

Wickets

Avg

SR

Econ

Ravichandran Ashwin

46

131

20.14

46.9

2.57

Ravindra Jadeja

38

82

21.46

54.3

2.37

Axar Patel

12

39

12.43

33.5

2.22

Kuldeep Yadav

8

16

23.81

39.8

3.58

Read More: India in home Tests 2013-22: A 100 pc series win-loss record with match win-loss record of 34-2


Will Indian selectors test domestic spin force? Saxena, Mulani & Nadeem are in top form

Will India now take a chance on Kuldeep Yadav? The left-arm wrist spinner has taken 16 wickets in Tests on Indian pitches between January 2017 and January 2023 and a five-wicket haul against Australia in Sydney in January 2019.


Or will India bring in a seasoned domestic campaigner who has belted out and toiled hard on these spinning tracks for the past two years?


Someone like right-arm spinner Jalaj Saxena who has 403 wickets in 131 first-class games at a strike rate of 56.4 stakes a big claim for an India spot. The Kerala spinner may be 36-year-old but Saxena is in sublime form this season as he is the leading wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy 2022-23 with 43 scalps in 5 games at an unbelievable strike rate of 36.3. Saxena has registered three match-winning performances, including two player of the match awards this season, which include a 9-wicket haul against Jharkhand and two 11-wicket hauls against Chhattisgarh and Services, respectively. The veteran spinner has single-handedly taken Kerala to the second spot in Elite Group C and the southern state are now firm contenders for a quarter-final berth this season.


Jalaj Saxena is not just knocking on the doors for a national squad contention but is breaking the door down with his consistent efforts!


Shams Mulani, who was the highest wicket-taker with 45 scalps at an incredible strike rate of 34.5 in Ranji Trophy 2022 and has gone on to pick 80 wickets in two seasons (2022 and current season) is a decent bet. Shahbaz Nadeem, who was the third highest wicket-taker with 25 scalps in the 2022 season of Ranji Trophy, and has picked up a cumulative 55 wickets inclusive of the current and previous seasons, is another possible candidate.


Mulani and Nadeem will give India the same flavour as Axar or Jadeja with the left-arm orthodox angle and some stability with the bat too, as both are bowling all-rounders, which is exactly the need of the hour for India. Mulani with his batting prowess may just stand ahead of Nadeem as the former registered a tally of 321 runs from 6 games in Ranji Trophy 2022.


Read More: Kohli’s poor Test form continues: An average of 26.20 during 2020-22 as against 54.97 during 2011-19

Ranji Trophy 2021-22 Round-up_ Shahbaz Nadeem's 10-wicket haul overpowers Dhruv Shorey's century, Jharkhand beat Delhi. (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)
Nadeem made his Test debut against South Africa in 2019 (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

A peek into the numbers of the top five Indian domestic spinners' performances in Ranji Trophy from 2022 to 2022–23 (ongoing):

Player

Wickets

Shams Mulani

80

Jalaj Saxena

56

Shahbaz Nadeem

55

Kumar Kartikeya

53

Mayank Mishra

43

The star performers in the domestic circuit are really putting in some superlative efforts and India may go in with Ashwin, Axar and Kuldeep, clubbed with one domestic bowler.