Former India Test skipper and arguably the most successful spinner to represent the county, Anil Kumble, once shared what can be considered the success mantra for a spinner. Talking about the art of spin bowling, the veteran of 965 international wickets said, in an interview to ESPNCricinfo, "For a spinner, it is the last column that matters." Not known as a great turner of the ball, Kumble, fondly referred to as Jumbo, relied heavily on his ability to pick up wickets in heaps.
Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh' s career graph adds weight to Kumble's words. By the time he was out of favour with the national selectors, Harbhajan had lost his knack of picking up wickets. Once the form began to fade away, it took along with it, the confidence and the courage to challenge and fox the best of batsmen. Harbhajan eventually lost his spot for being ineffective. Ravichandran Ashwin, with a lot of tricks up his sleeve, usurped Harbhajan's spot to become the frontline spinner across formats. While wickets in the longest format of the game came along, his ODI form was always questionable.
In ODIs, Ashwin failed to create the kind of impact a leading spinner is expected to. In January 2013, he managed to pick up just seven wickets versus England in the five-match series at home. On spinning tracks, this was a below-par show. In India's successful outing in the ICC Champions Trophy in UK, Ashwin managed eight wickets while Ravindra Jadeja finished as the highest wicket-taker of the tournament with 12 scalps.
Back home a seven-match series against Australia followed where Ashwin tried multiple variations including his 'stop and deliver' bowling action but could only manage nine wickets. On India's tour of South Africa, he picked up just one wicket in two ODIs while his form further plummeted, as he was restricted to just one wicket in five ODIs in New Zealand.