Ind vs Eng: Is it end of “KulCha” and time to bring Ashwin back in white-ball cricket?

ind vs eng, ashwin, kuldeep yadav, yuzvendra chahal

Ind vs Eng – Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav: Virat Kohli shocked everyone on Sunday after he decided to rest the other half of India’s “KulCha” pair, Kuldeep Yadav, in the third ODI between India vs England. The hosts opted to play an extra pacer in T.Natarajan calling it a “tactical move”.

During the 2018 series against South Africa, the duo dominated the Proteas with their spin, so much so that they were dubbed to end many careers before the tour even ended. Their rise under MS Dhoni’s captaincy meant Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin had to work that extra mile to return to white-ball cricket.

Cut to March for ongoing Ind vs Eng series.. the pair itself is now struggling to make the cut. It was for the first time in ODI since the 2017 Champions Trophy that India are without Kuldeep and Chahal in the starting lineup. So was it really a strategy or has the Indian team management lost confidence in the duo?

Ind vs Eng: Chahal and Kuldeep with and without MS Dhoni

Chahal and Yadav have openly accepted that the former Indian captain played a huge role in their development. For the wrist-spin duo, Dhoni was a friend, philosopher and guide, all rolled into one. It was Dhoni who orchestrated their every move from behind the batsman. It involved scolding, hand-holding, cajoling, praising, silent nods of appreciation and mentoring, both on and off the field.

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Under Dhoni, while Kuldeep featured in 47 matches, Chahal played one less. In 93 games, the duo shared 172 wickets — Kuldeep (91) & Chahal (81). They had replaced Ashwin and Jadeja to become India’s No.1 spinners.

However, without the World Cup-winning captain, they have struggled to keep up to their name. In 24 games, they have only 25 wickets so far. Furthermore, to add to their woes, they have struggled to take wickets, eventually losing their place in the playing XI.

ind vs eng, ashwin, kuldeep yadav, yuzvendra chahal
Ind vs Eng: Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav stats. (CricBuzz/Twitter)

Kuldeep is no more India’s first-choice in any format. In his last 5 ODIs he has conceded more than 60 runs on four occasions in his spells and taken just 6 wickets. He was preferred over Chahal and Washington Sundar in the first and second ODI against England but was one of the least impressive India bowlers on display.

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Chahal, on the other hand,  too lost his place after a disappointing performance in the T20I series. In the last 15 months, Chahal has just managed 10 Wickets in 12 games.

Ind vs Eng: What happens now with KulCha struggling?

India is in desperate need of a wicket-taking spinner and there have been calls that the think tank should bring back Ashwin to white-ball cricket.

If I were the chief selector (now), I would have brought Ashwin back. Why not? Because he is such an experienced bowler and he has variety. As they say, spinners mature late and he has done so well over the years. He is in terrific form in red-ball cricket. I think it will suit the team if he is brought back,” former Indian cricketer Dilip Vengasarkar said.

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Ashwin has not played for India in the shorter format since July 2017 but has been India’s leading bowler in Test cricket – especially at home – for several years. His performance against England – where he became the quickest in terms of balls bowled to 400 wickets – was crucial to the team securing a place in the World Test Championship final. In the four-Test series, he chipped 32 wickets, the highest in both teams.

Ind vs Eng: Ashwin’s IPL stats:

Bowling

Mat

Balls

Runs

WKTS

BBM

Ave

Econ

Career

154

3,230

3,701

138

4/34

26.81

6.87

2020

15

306

391

13

3/29

30.07

7.66

2019

14

330

400

15

3/23

26.66

7.27

2018

14

304

410

10

2/18

41.00

8.09

He has also been in limelight for his IPL exploits. Last year, Ashwin had 13 wickets at an economy rate of 7.66 in 15 matches for Delhi Capitals in the IPL. The year previously, he had 15 scalps for Kings XI Punjab, now Punjab Kings.

India will have to solve their spin conundrum fast in a T20 World Cup year. Bringing Ashwin back will see the team management make a U-turn. The IPL will be crucial for Kuldeep, and Chahal who will want to return to form before the world cup.