Debasis Sen, Centurion: It was a reality check for Ravichandran Ashwin after he failed to win India a test match at the Wanderers during the last tour of 2013-14. The off-spinner has come a long way since becoming the No. 1 Test bowler in the world. It was Ashwin who was the most successful bowler for India at Centurion with three wickets at stumps on Day 1 of the second test match.
On being reminded about the failure to win the test match at Wanderers, Ashwin said, “It was a reality check in terms of not being able to win a test match for the country on day five when all things were actually set up for a spinner. It was kind of hit on my professional pride. I worked on making my action and the wrist position at time of release and also added a few things up my repertoire and used my wrist a lot more when I bowl and used my palm more when I bowl the flipper and etc. etc. obviously these things have combined over the last few years, I have had a great time over the last 2-3 years. I am just taking the confidence forward and I am trying to get better as the day goes and by the end of this series I will be a far better bowler than what I started.”
The off-spinner also attributed his success in recent times to his county stint with Worcestershire.
“I think my experience of going to England and playing helped because this has been a sort of wicket which you get there especially where I played, at New Road, where it’s pretty flat. One ball jumps occasionally and goes flat for a pretty long time. My first-class team-mates would advice that I have to develop a lot of patience and hearing those things from them was definitely a reality check for me,” said Ashwin.
Few quick wickets in the final session have brought the visitors back in the match. According to Ashwin, “I think this was a good last session for us. Because I feel those wickets in the last session is very valid incentive for the team going into day two.”
On being asked about the teams strategy on Day 2, Ashwin said, “You can’t really bowl them out on this wicket, you really have to dig in deep and purchase those wickets. It depends upon how well you do it, how well we recover overnight for the bowlers to be able to (do it), I mean thankfully we are playing with five bowlers.”
There were dark clouds over Ashwin’s place in the side even two days before the test match. But the sudden change in the nature of the wicket influenced the team management to include him in the side. He was drafted into the squad at the last moment.
Talking about his preparation of the game, Ashwin said, “I was always prepared to go. I mean, I play (only) Test cricket now, get a lot of break in between, so might as well be ready when I get an opportunity. So, there is no reason to unfasten the seat belt, you are always on.”
He further added, “I mean two days from the game it looked like we are going to play an all-seam attack. And then when we walked into the ground yesterday, it was white in colour, the grass was coming off. All of a sudden I really had to pull myself back and think I am in the game now. Today morning when we came to the ground, it looked like a wicket that was really flat and had to have a spinner in the game.”