As India registered their biggest away win against the West Indies in North Sound, with Ravichandran Ashwin leading the way, one couldn't help wonder why the Tamil Nadu off-spinner is not second in command to Virat Kohli on this tour.

We know that it was the soft-spoken, meticulous, and technically refined Ajinkya Rahane who got the nod ahead of him for vice-captain. When Rahane was elevated, he was one of the team's most consistent performers in the longer format. His baptism by fire came in unforgiving arenas in South Africa, New Zealand, and England, and he passed the tests with flying colours. Why, so good was his temperament that he drew constant comparisons to Rahul Dravid.

By contrast, Ashwin featured in only six of the 13 away Tests that India played in 2013-14, not even getting a look-in against Kiwis.

Batsmen vs all-rounders

There was a time in world cricket when all-rounders rose to captaincy. Over time, though, the baton passed to the star batsman of the side. Today, it is somehow assumed that a batsman is the brains of the side – in a batsman-dominated era, selectors invariably veer towards this view.

Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews is an exception, but one wonders if things would have been the same had a next-gen Mahela Jayawardene or Kumar Sangakkara come along.

Pakistan's World Cup winning skipper Imran Khan once emphasised that understanding the nuances of bowling was a pre-requisite for leading a side. As for captains who are frontline bowlers, Mashrafe Mortaza has done a sterling job with his Bangladesh side. The same cannot be said about England pace-ace, Stuart Broad, who had a forgettable outing as his country’s T20 captain. India's last bowling captain was Anil Kumble, and he had only a brief run, leading the country in just 14 matches, winning three, losing five, and drawing six.

Against this backdrop, it's possible that Indian selectors, too, have gone in for the batsman-knows-best formula.


Ashwin's rise as all-rounder

Ashwin has looked a different player ever since Kohli took over the reins from MS Dhoni in the longest format. His clinical all-round display in Antigua came on the back of tormenting the Proteas at home in late 2015, where he ended up as Man of the Series.

Ashwin mentioned then that he has always put himself in the shoes of an all-rounder. However, he needs to show more consistency with the bat. Things are looking up as his last two Test scores have both crossed the 50-run mark, the second being a century. Ashwin also revealed that he had been working hard on his batting in the recent past. At his fluent best, the offie can also be a picture of elegance and grace with the willow.

The Vice-Captain's role

There's some uncertainty over the role of a deputy skipper. In most cases, it looks like the idea is to groom a younger leader for the future, rather than pick someone who would take decisions along with his captain.

There are usually other leaders too in the Indian cricket team. In the past, when a bowler was setting the field, Zaheer Khan filled in as an unofficial vice-captain. Ashwin's cricketing brain has come for a lot of praise in the past, although it is still not certain if he will be playing every Test away from home. On current form, it's hard to keep him out.

But with Rahane being a certainty to start, the Mumbai batsman may well hold on to his hard-earned elevation to the post. Leaving both us and Ashwin wondering – what if?