Wicket was unresponsive: Ashwin
New Delhi, Nov 9: Ravichandran Ashwin had a dream debut at the Feroz Shah Kotla, claiming a five-for; in doing so, he became the seventh Indian bowler to achieve the feat. The off-spinner picked three wickets in the first innings, and six in the second, of the first Test of the three-match series against the West Indies, to end with a nine-wicket haul in the match.
The offie, who was instrumental in restricting WI’s second innings to 180 runs, spoke to the media at the end of day’s play.
“I didn't expect any wickets or so many of them, but before the Test match I was hoping to get a five-wicket haul and probably some more runs as well. Unfortunately the second part did not happen,” he said, pointing to the high all-round standards he sets for himself.
The tall spinner from Chennai picked the key wickets of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels, the only two players in the current WI squad to have played Tests in India before. Speaking about their dismissals Ashwin said, “Marlon Samuels was probably playing for the turn and he seemed worried about the bat-pad to short-leg but probably if you have played in Delhi and the Kotla, you do know that it won't go to short-leg. Unfortunately, he did not know that and he was looking for the spin and it went straight on.
“For Chanderpaul, I was bowling around the wicket in the first innings, so here I came over the wicket and was just trying a different angle. Fortunately, it worked.”
Discussing the pitch and his bowling, Ashwin said, "I have never played on such a wicket. There was nothing in the wicket for the batsmen or the bowlers. I have not seen a wicket [that’s this] unresponsive to my variations. You have to be patient and work hard, bowl wicket to wicket. Strategically, I increased my speed of delivery a bit and used variations.
“Honestly speaking, I have never got wickets on such a pitch. It is not my bread and butter as I need spin and bounce […] If the batsman is not patient enough, you can get a wicket,” he added.
“Today I tried to bowl a wee bit quicker and on to the stumps and it paid off.
“I didn't feel any nerves but yes, the body wasn't moving the way I wanted it to in the first few overs. I didn't know whether my hip was turning, whether the release was perfect. All I was doing was concentrating because I have never seen a wicket that is so unreceptive to so many revolutions on the ball.
“All these things were weighing on my mind before I went in for the lunch break [on the first day] but as time went on, I just had to handle myself,” Ashwin said.
“I had to handle myself and my team-mates supported me well," the 25-year-old said while summing up his debut game.
And what was it like to be picked over a senior off-spinner like Harbhajan Singh? “I am a youngster and he is a senior professional and he has done his job and probably when I am given my duties, I need to live up to my conscience and do my job.”
On the veterans in the dressing room, Ashwin said, “To play alongside Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid is a blessing. I had never thought of playing in Test cricket but probably I am gifted enough to play alongside the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid."
Crediting his success to the exposure he got by playing on the domestic circuit, Ashwin said, "Playing in [the] Ranji Trophy is the best thing for me and others for making it to Test [cricket]. The format is almost the same and you can use your variations there. I have not played many Ranji matches – like 60 or 70 games. But [playing in Ranji Trophy] has really helped me," said Ashwin.