Mohammad Hafeez has suggested that the decision to leave out R. Ashwin, India’s leading limited-overs spinner, for the first Twenty20 helped Pakistan. India opted to go in with left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja ahead of Ashwin for the match in Bangalore, which Pakistan won by five wickets.
“This is the combination, they knew very well what they wanted, Ashwin was not there in this team,” Hafeez said. “So our plan was that if we play out the new ball, then their spinners are not world-class; I know Yuvraj is in great form, but when you don’t have a world-class spinner then we can dominate.”
Jadeja bowled 2.4 overs, including the final one of the game, and was taken for 29 runs, and he contributed only two runs with the bat. “It was a surprise for us that they didn’t play Ashwin, at the end we are happy that we won the game.”
Dhoni, though, defended the decision saying Ashwin was more of a threat with the new ball. “Ashwin has been one of our main bowlers, he had to bowl in the first six overs a lot,” Dhoni said.
“Once we had three seamers, we wanted to give Jadeja a chance also, and once the field has opened up in the last two games Ashwin has also gone for runs, though he has bowled beautifully in the first six overs.”
Only one of Pakistan’s top seven batsmen was a left-hander, another reason Dhoni provided for the decision to leave out the offspinner Ashwin. “They had lots of right-hand batsmen, and if we needed an off-spinner, we had Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina.
If we needed an option of a left-arm spinner in case Yuvi had a bad day, we wouldn’t have any option in the XI if Jadeja was left out.”
This was only the second Twenty20 match Ashwin has missed since his debut against Zimbabwe in 2010; the other one was the meaningless fixture against England in the World Twenty20. Ashwin himself was philosophical about his omission: “Even Fernando Torres has to sit out for Chelsea.”