There have only been two completed international matches over the past week from which to pick this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week. One of those was the all-night affair between Afghanistan and Australia in Sharjah, while the other was the first Test between India and New Zealand in Hyderabad.
Matthew Wade and Michael Clarke were the best performing batsmen from that match in the desert, both hitting 75 in Australia’s total of 272 for eight, although Asghar Stanikzai deserves an honourable mention for his 66 in Afghanistan’s ultimately unsuccessful run chase. Mitchell Starc was the best bowler on either side, taking four for 47 in spite of the oppressive heat, with his left-arm pace.
The Test match in Hyderabad yielded a couple of exceptional performances, both unsurprisingly by Indians. Cheteshwar Pujara hit a magnificent 159 in the home side’s imposing first innings total of 438 as he proved himself to be a more than capable successor to the retired Rahul Dravid.
However, it is R Ashwin who wins the award this week. He returned match figures of 12 for 85 and outbowled fellow spinner Pragyan Ojha, who didn’t exactly disgrace himself, taking six for 92. Ashwin, nonetheless, was keen to stress the role that Ojha played in his success, saying, "Due credit needs to be given to him. When one spinner starts to take wickets, the other spinner can get carried away and doesn't really bog the batsman down."
Ojha and Ashwin have now taken 60 wickets in the four Test matches where they have played together and, after the game, Ashwin reflected on how the two have always done well throughout their careers when playing together.
"Ojha is someone who I have played with since I was 16 and we have always enjoyed each other's company," Ashwin said. "I was a batsman then when Ojha was a prime bowler but I still used to bowl in one-day games. We always used to bowl well together because we used to build pressure very well."
Ashwin’s match haul was his best in his seven Test matches to date and his final haul of 12 for 85 was the best by an Indian against New Zealand in Test cricket, going past S Venkataraghavan, who took 12 for 152 in 1965.
© Cricket World 2012
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