Former Pakistan leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed believes that the likes of Ravi Ashwin, Nathan Lyon have struggled in white-ball cricket due to the “lack of variations” on flat decks. Both Ravi Ashwin and Lyon are arguably the best Test spinners in the world right now but have struggled to replicate that performance in white-ball formats.
Ravi Ashwin has picked up a staggering 365 wickets in 71 Tests while Lyon has taken an impressive 390 wickets in 96 games. Both the spinners have helped their teams win several Tests in the last few years but have not really lived up to the expectations in limited-overs cricket.
While their struggle in white-ball cricket has baffled many, Mushtaq Ahmed believes that it is due to the lack of variations. The legendary spinner cited the example of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav to back his claims as he told PTI:
“Look at Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. They have won so many (white ball) games for India in the last two years. May be the likes of Lyon, Ravi Ashwin and Yasir don’t have enough variations to survive in one-day cricket.”
Mushtaq Ahmed, who has coached around the world, further lavished praise on Ravi Ashwin, Lyon as well as Yasir Shah for their performance in Tests. He then explained the reason behind the success of mystery and wrist-spinners in ODIs and T20Is in recent years.
“Test cricket remains the ultimate challenge for the spinners as you get to know their true skills. The likes of Yasir Shah, Nathan Lyon, Moeen Ali, Ashwn. These are the guys I admire. Their contribution to Test cricket has been huge,” said Mushtaq Ahmed.
“Some of them have been successful in one day cricket also but the game has changed drastically since the five fielder rule inside the (30-yard) circle came into being. For that, mystery spinners as well as wrist spinners have become more effective. Guys like Like Adil Rashid, Adam Zampa, Yuvzendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Shadab Khan,” he added.
Mushtaq Ahmed went on tell it is tough for the spinners to survive in ODIs without variations if the pitches don’t support them.
“In one -day cricket, if the pitches are good and you don’t have variations or a mystery ball, you can’t survive. For example, a champion bowler like Lyon has been exposed in one day cricket. He has not been as successful as he has been in the longest format.
“You need to have someone who can bowl leg-breaks, googlies, flippers, someone with a different (unorthodox) action. There is so much power hitting in the game, you need spinners with variations,” he said.
Ravi Ashwin has completely fallen down the pecking order in ODIs and T20Is. The India star, who was part of India’s winning campaign in 2011 World Cup and 2013 Champions Trophy, has not played a limited-overs game for the national team since 2017. On the other hand, Lyon has managed to play just 29 ODIs and two T20Is so far.