Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Aushik Srinivas

Will Aushik be TN's best left arm spinner after S. Vasudevan?

One hopes Tamil Nadu under new head coach VB Chandrasekar will allow Aushik to play an attacking 'spinner' role

In February 1982, a 16 year old Vidya Mandir School boy bundled out a strong Delhi team comprising of  the Amarnath brothers, Gurusharan Singh and Kirti Azad for just 120runs (in the 2nd innings) with a 7wicket haul to give Tamil Nadu a strong hope for a comeback victory after giving away a big first innings lead (It is another matter TN fell short in its run chase that could have made it one of the great come back wins even in Ranji Knock out).

Within 15months of this sensational Ranji debut, L.Sivaramakrishnan had made his Test debut against Clive Lloyd led West Indies at Antigua, against a team comprising of Greenidge, Haynes and Richards.

Close to three decades after that sensational spell of LS, another school boy spinner, this one from Sri Nehru Vidhyalaya School Coimbatore, came into limelight with a 7wicket haul this time against the other bigwigs of Indian cricket- Bombay. If LS had shot out Delhi for just over a 100, Aushik Srinivas helped trigger a collapse that saw Bombay lose 8 wickets for around 100 on the 4th morning.

Based on that performance in December 2009, Aushik was selected for the Duleep Trophy to play for South Zone, where in the finals he came up against Yusuf Pathan and his blistering innings. Aushik’s performance since then has been more steady than spectacular.

It is another matter LS faded away within 4years of his debut season performance after peaking in 1984-85 and turning into a batsman for TN in the latter part of his Ranji career.

Aushik, who has now played almost 25Ranji matches, has not been able to capitalise on his early success and the Duleep Trophy exposure that he got in his very first season. Just over 50wickets and the 7for against Bombay being his only five wicket haul indicates that he has not been a wicket taking strike bowler for Tamil Nadu that one would have looked for, from him, after his early success. Slow wickets and defensive tactics
(from TN) are just two reasons for his below par performance after his 7wicket haul catapulted him into being just one step away (Duleep Trophy) from National reckoning.
Aushik began his cricketing career as a medium pace bowler. At a districts camp, Aushik tried his hand at spin and has stuck to it, since those school days. He plays league cricket in Coimbatore for Ramakrishna Mills. He was introduced to league cricket in Madras by R. Madhavan (Former South Zone Cricketer and Former Chairman of TN Selection Panel) when he signed to play for MCC. The next year, he moved into the first division to play for UFCC (T. Nagar). His immediate success in first division league got him a place in the team for the Buchi Babu Trophy and then into the Ranji Squad.  

Change in bowling action
One of the coaches who has worked with him for the last four years says there were a lot of changes made to his action by different coaches after Aushik’s success in his first year in Ranji Trophy ( especially after the Duleep Trophy) and that impacted his performance.

This comes as no surprise in Indian cricket as one of the first things to happen to a young spinner after early success is to ‘work’ on the spinner’s bowling action!!! One wonders why?

Role in TN team
With Tamil Nadu relying on fast bowlers last season, Aushik  has had to play a role that has now become so normal these days for spinners - ‘bowl tight’ and ‘contain’ from one end. Even in his own analysis, a year or so ago, Aushik has said that his role even in the league team was to ‘bowl tight’, this despite the fact that he has ‘flight’ as a key weapon in his armoury and is also a natural turner of the ball.

On his part, he has nodded in to the team's requirement of being a 'restrictive' bowler rather than show a little more confidence in asking for a field where he could go in for wickets. He has even expressed himself as going into matches without any expectations and sometimes even with a blank feeling and taking it as it comes.

Also, changing league teams within the first division league almost every year would have done his confidence no good ( though he has been within the India Cements fold since entering the first division league)- from UFCC to Falcon to Vijay ( this year). One again wonders as to why a bowler ( who has played Duleep Trophy) would be shunted across between league teams every year having  to work with a new captain and a new set of team mates.

The Chairman of TN Selection Panel B. Kalyanasundaram is of the view that Aushik is a good long term bet for TN and one will have to show patience and persist with him. Kalli believes that Aushik will have an important role to play into the future. For his age, he has performed reasonably well as a spinner in the last 2-3years. He believes that Aushik can only improve from here on.

In the current round of league matches in the first division- the fourth this season - Aushik, playing for Vijay CC, had a 7wkt haul, that is likely to give him a lot of confidence on the wicket taking front.

Given the right support by his captain and the coaching staff, now headed by VB Chandrasekar, Aushik has potential to develop into a match winner for Tamil Nadu from the ‘steady’ bowler he has been positioned to be in the last year or so.

It has been many years since Tamil Nadu has had a successful left arm spinner- S. Vasudevan and Sunil Subramaniam have been the only two of note in the last three decades with R Ramkumar being the other to feature in the team consistently over a period of time in the last 10years.

VB has been known to get the best out of his players and one would hope that Aushik will be allowed to don a more attacking role in the side this year as against the ‘run containing’ bowler he has been in the last two seasons.

On the academics front, Aushik has been able to achieve reasonable results in Class X as well in Class XII despite being on Ranji Trophy duty for most of that season. He came back to Coimbatore only 20days prior to his Class XII exam but thanks to support from his teachers, he was able to get through with good marks.  Currently, he is in third year of Engineering but his focus for now is all on cricket and making a mark here.

Within 3years, he has been able to cement (yes he plays for India Cements!!) his place in the TN Ranji team and has now become a regular in the team- an achievement this Coimbatorean spinner, who is not yet 20, can be proud of. 
Time will tell if Tamil Nadu will be able to leverage the best of this talented young spinner who for the moment seems to be the best bet after Vasudevan and Sunil Subramaniam. But for that to happen, the team think tank will have to be far more positive on the bowling front than they have been in recent times.


dinesh said...

Very nice write up. I agree that the team Strategy with Aushik is an important factor in how he shapes his future as a spinner. I wish Aushik good luck in the upcoming seasons.

Prabhu - you are lucky to be closer to the Ranji action than I am. I did however get to watch one game (Ranji final) thanks to BCCI TV. I scribbled some notes here after I saw that game.


Rajesh Kalyanasundaram said...

Excellent note Prabhu.
Aushik is a great find for TN and hope he performs well this session.