Nagpur, March 11: India's World Cup 2011 matches against under-dog teams - Ireland and Netherlands - should have been utilised as an opportunity to home in on their most effective bowlers' combination. Instead, Indian captain M S Dhoni inexplicably chose to stick with leg-spinner Piyush Chawla as his fifth bowling option, leaving off-break R Ashwin out in the cold
Ashwin would be itching to make his Wold Cup debut and he rightly deserves a chance, notwithstanding Dhoni's preoccupation with Chawla. Chawla may be touted as a genuine leg-spinner, but as Sunil Gavaskar described him, he is more a googly bowler who occasionally bowls leg-spinners.
Thus, he has made himself quite predictable to the oppositions he has played against in the global event so far and his less-than-impressive figures are testimant to the fact. Against England, he may have taken 2 wickets, but he leaked an expensive 71 runs in his 10-overs, effectively allowing the side from Ole Blighty to come back into the match and eventually tie it.
Versus the lowly Irish, he came up with his worst performance in the tournament thus far, going wicketless for 56 off 8 overs. Chawla may have put on a better show against the Dutch (2/47 in 10), but the efficacy of the bowler is clearly on the wane and therefore R Ashwin should be given a chance.
Ashwin provides more in terms of the X factor that India is looking for. He bowls the carrom ball, varies his pace intelligently and has good control over his line and length. For proof of his worth one should look no further than the India vs New Zealand series in December last year when he emerged the top wicket-taker with 11 scalps from 5 matches at an average of just over 21.
So, isn't it time for Chawla to move over and given Ashwin a chance at World Cup glory?