For India captain Virat Kohli, the return of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to the white-ball squad is a sign of the evolving T20I game. When India announced their squad for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, one of the names that caught the eye of fans was that of Ravichandran Ashwin.
In recent years, bowlers who can take the ball away from right-hand batters have been most successful in the shortest format. In the current T20I rankings, for instance, seven of the top 10 are either wrist-spinners or left-arm orthodox spinners. One is a mystery spinner. However, this might be changing, with off-spinners like Ashwin ready to bowl in the Powerplay overs, and especially strong against left-hand batters.
Until now, said Kohli, “Wrist spinners were the ones in demand, mostly through that middle period, but now the finger spinners with that accuracy have come back into the game again, so we also have to evolve as a team with the evolving trend of the game.
“With Ash and the likes of [left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja] as well, performing beautifully … These guys can be very consistent.”
West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard agreed with Kohli’s assessment. For the defending champions, Roston Chase comes in as an off-spin option after strong performances in the Caribbean Premier League over the last couple of years, with Fabian Allen as another finger-spin option.
“At one point in time, the wrist spinners used to dominate,” Pollard said. “You want a right-arm wrist spinner or the left-arm back-of-the-arm [unorthodox bowler]. But in the recent past, for whatever reason, I don’t know if it’s conditions, finger spinners have come back into favour.
“They have more control in different situations and difficult situations as well, as to where they want to put the ball where it’s actually needed. So if you want a guy to consistently bowl to a bigger side of the ground, and you have a finger spinner bowling there, he has more control.
“For us, we have a couple of finger spinners in our armoury and hopefully we can maximise the dimensions of the ground and whatever spin is there, at whatever given time, we can use that against the opposition.”