However, former India pacer Ajit Agarkar does not view it as a sign of lack of faith in the off-spinner. Agarkar believes it was mainly to do with the match conditions and situations than anything else. (Full IPL Coverage)
‘No faith lost’
“At times it may seem odd but I don’t think it is due to any lack of faith. When Pune came to Mumbai (to take on Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium last month), it was a seamers’ wicket and Ashwin’s bowling was not needed,” Agarkar said.
Ashwin bowled just one over for one wicket in that IPL opener on April 9 that Pune won easily after restricting the home team and title holders to 121 for 8.
“You have to remember that when the IPL games were played in spin-friendly conditions in Chennai, he used to open the bowling. The conditions matter,” Agarkar added.
A controversy had arisen post the World Twenty20 in which India were knocked out by eventual champions West Indies in the semi-final after Ashwin bowled only two overs for 20 runs in the power-play and then was not brought on to bowl again by Dhoni.
Ashwin got peeved when asked about it at the pre-match media conference before Pune took on Mumbai Indians and gave a tongue lashing to the journalist who had asked the question that whether he found it difficult to bowl following the dew-fall, the reason cited by Dhoni for the ineffectiveness of the Indian spinners.
“When there was dew, I didn’t bowl. It’s better you ask the question to someone who actually bowled. To be very honest, I don’t know how it felt with the dew on. It’s very amusing. Because in the first 12 balls I bowled, I created a wicket-opportunity as well. It’s quite surprising how you phrase your question,” India’s top spin bowler had retorted.
The raging debate has continued with Dhoni not utilising Ashwin’s bowling to the fullest in the IPL so far. He has bowled 30 overs in 10 games, instead of the full quota of 40, and has only three wickets in his kitty.
In the last game that Pune lost against Royal Challlengers Bangalore on May 7, the off-spinner was brought on to bowl the 17th over for a lost cause as Bangalore easily chased Pune’s total of 191 with seven wickets and three balls to spare.