Indian spinners make the Aussies crumble in their opening Cricket World Cup 2023 clash. Ravi Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja shared 6 wickets for 104 runs against Australia at Chepauk.
On a humid Sunday afternoon, when many would have preferred to stay indoors and escape the searing sun, the match began on ground. The viewers tuning in on TV could observe the spectators using towels as shields against the heat. The Australian batters tried to stay in the shade beneath umbrellas, and also resorted to ice-cold towels for respite during breaks. Despite being cozily seated in an air-conditioned box, the commentators couldn't help commenting about the hellish, unforgiving conditions.
Chennai's oppressive humidity took a toll on the Australian team, with India's strong spin trio - Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, and Ravichandran Ashwin - emerging victorious in the middle overs.
Tom Moody summed up the Aussie batting performance perfectly in his post-match interview with ESPN by saying: “Australia did not have a plan for that sort of pitch!”
Australia's nightmarish struggle against spin
This game gets really interesting when dissected. Early on, the Indian pacers showed their skills, without much support from the pitch. However, upon recognizing the need for a change in strategy, spinners were introduced and they proved their prowess in the conditions.
Ravichandran Ashwin took to the center stage in the eighth over. His first delivery was mediocre, sliding onto Warner’s bat without much fuss. The following balls, however, were nothing short of spectacular, one a high bouncer, the other bounced from a shorter length. Then came the fourth ball, a tweaker’s delight as it left a cloud of dust after bouncing off the pitch. The palpable shock on Smith's face marked the moment when the confidence of the Aussie batters began to crack in the face of unexpected spin.
Situations worsened after Kuldeep Yadav dismissed David Warner with a brilliant caught and bowled effort. There was not a single boundary scored for 73 deliveries, from the middle of the 20th over to the end of the 32nd over.
Ravindra Jadeja played a pivotal role in this phase, picking up crucial wickets - including Marnus Labuschagne and Alex Carey, in addition to Steven Smith’s precious scalp.
While the Australians might have expected a dry pitch at Chennai, they certainly didn’t plan for India being relentless in applying pressure. It was indeed a wonderful display of a tight squeeze by the hosts.
Jadeja's dominance in familiar Indian conditions
Boasting an average of 30.84 on home soil, Jadeja had an exceptional outing in the match against Australia. The World Cup is being played in India, where expectations from Jadeja are statistically high.
In Chennai, a place where he has played 42 T20 matches, he averages 24 with an economy of under seven runs per over.
Despite Australia being aware of his capabilities, they had no proper plan to counter him. Smith, in particular, fell in Jadeja's trap again, making it the 11th time across international formats where he has been bested by the left-arm all-rounder.
It's clear that Jadeja becomes an absolute beast when bowling in India, which is proven by his average of 32.64 at neutral venues and 51.57 while playing away.
Kuldeep and Ashwin amplify the chaos
With Mitchell Marsh already dismissed for a duck, Australia were able to briefly regroup as Warner and Smith got together to build a 69-run partnership. However, Kuldeep Yadav intervened and ended the partnership by removing Warner.
The delivery was a full toss, aimed at the stumps. Warner mishit the cover drive and sent the ball straight into the hands of the bowler. This is the third time that Kuldeep has dismissed Warner in an ODI, leaving the Australian with only 66 runs from 83 balls at an average of 22 against him.
The next big fish that Kuldeep caught was Glenn Maxwell. The ball was delivered quick, and it bounced off the pitch. Maxwell tried to pull it, but it was not the right length for that shot. He made a mistake, missed the ball, and the ball hit the leg-stump, knocking it over.
Ashwin, who had been menacing in the initial power-play, returned in the 36th over to dismiss Cameron Green. He was instrumental in building pressure from one end; denying easy runs to the Aussies and making them play as many dots as possible.
On the home turf i.e., India, Ashwin has picked up 70 wickets at an average of 30.41. With his ability to handle the new ball efficiently, Ashwin gives an added advantage to the captain. He can also come in and do the damage in the middle and in the later part of the innings.
Spinners Shine in Spectacular Display
On a pitch offering variable bounce, India's spinners performed brilliantly in their combined 30 overs. During these 30 overs, balls amounting to 16.5 overs were dots balls, and the spin trio claimed six wickets - while conceding only 104 runs. Their success can be attributed to them bowling Test-match lengths consistently on a pitch which offered them help.
Jadeja picked up 3 wickets at an economy of 2.80 giving away 28 runs in his 10 overs. Kuldeep recorded figures of 2/42 in his 10 overs at an economy of 4.20, while Ashwin picked up 1 wicket for 34 runs at an economy of 3.40.
The fans of the Men in Blue are now eagerly waiting to see the spinners bamboozle the opposition's middle order in the upcoming World Cup clashes.
Team India will also need consistent performances from the three on spin-friendly pitches. This will be a crucial factor that has the potential to make India win the World Cup 2023.