Data | Why R Ashwin's selection in the Test XI should be a no-brainer

Between 2018 and 2021, Ashwin has picked up 109 wickets, the second-highest among spinners

Even as the India-England Test series is delicately poised at 1-1 after three Tests, India’s leading active wicket-taker has not played a game. R. Ashwin’s performance in matches played away from home has improved over the years and his recent record shows that he tops the bowling charts for spinners, with a lethal hold over left-hand batters in particular. With The Oval, the venue for the fourth Test, being better for spinners as the game goes on, and considering Ashwin’s recent form, his selection in the XI should be a no-brainer.

Between 2018 and 2021, Ashwin has picked up 109 wickets, the second-highest among spinners. In the same period, he has taken 39 wickets playing away from India, the fourth-highest.

Among all Indian spinners who have played in England and picked up more than 10 wickets, Ashwin is one among six bowlers to have a strike rate of 75 or less. He also has the third-best average among all of them.

Indian spinners in England

The chart plots the bowling strike rate (balls per wicket) of an Indian spinner who has bowled at least 50 overs in England against his bowling average (runs given per wicket). Among active players, only Ashwin features among the elite (shaded region).

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Playing the batter

The table shows the share of false shots a spinner has induced against a batter in Tests played since 2018. A false shot is caused by a delivery that leads to a mistake by the batter. The 10 spinners with the best false shot % who have bowled at least 50 overs and have played in both home and away conditions are featured here. 

Progress report

Ashwin’s performance in Tests away from home has improved consistently over the years. His bowling average in 2020, one of the best years in his away career, was the best since 2011 and his strike-rate was the third-best.

 

Spinners at the Oval 

As a Test match progresses at The Oval, spinners become more effective. They tend to pick more wickets in fewer balls in the latter half of a match and induce more false shots by the batter.

Ashwin has an impressive record while bowling to left-handers in away Tests played since 2019. He has the best strike rate and average among spinners who have bowled in this period.

 

Against left-handers

The chart plots the average and strike rate of spinners who have bowled at least 20 overs since 2019. Size of the circle shows the % of false shots induced. Four out of the 11 recognised batters in England’s squad for the fourth Test are left-handers.

Data courtesy: Vishnu Vasudevan (Cricket21)

Source: Cricket21, ESPNcricinfo

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