Pressure is off my back: Ashwin
Hyderabad, Aug 26: Despite going through the rigours of first-class cricket for six years now, Ravichandran Ashwin has often been written off as a limited-overs specialist. And despite possessing a very good off-spinner, he’s often accused of depending too heavily on his variations like the carrom ball. The tall offie from Tamil Nadu has, today, silenced some of his critics by claiming his first 10-wicket haul in Tests.
Ashwin troubled the New Zealand batsmen in the first Test, in Hyderabad, with figures of six for 31 and six for 54. As a result, India romped home by an innings and 115 runs with a day to spare to go 1-0 up in the series.
In his post-match interaction with the media, Man-of-the-Match, Ashwin, spoke in detail about his performance, the track on offer, his spin partner Pragyan Ojha and his gameplan against the Kiwi batsmen.
On whether the team was relieved to finally win a Test match after a long time
On the whole, the team had a tough last year but that happens with every team. We have put that behind and are starting afresh. Hopefully, we’ll have a great season.
On his performance in this Test
I’m feeling really happy but like I’ve always said, I don’t get too excited or too bogged down by my performances. But yes, this is a good start; the pressure is off my back and I can now enjoy myself. I can just let the ball do the talking and concentrate on the various things that I need to work on constantly. I’m very happy but there’s still a long way to go as we have nine more Tests to play this year.
On whether he had a psychological advantage over the Kiwi batsmen, knowing they don’t play spin well
You could say so. But the last time New Zealand were here, they batted really well and almost drew the series. They lost in Nagpur but got off to a good start in the series. As a team, we knew we had not won here the last time, so we came to this venue with a lot of apprehension. But I thought we did really well as a unit to finish off the Test match in four days. I think there will be stiffer challenges in Bangalore where the batsmen will come out with better plans and we have to be up for it.
On the Hyderabad wicket
The wicket was very good and I enjoyed bowling on it. It had enough in it for the bowlers and it was a good batting track as well.
On the athletic catches taken by Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli
I thought there were a couple of very good catches that were pulled off and it’s definitely something that you relish as a spinner as it puts the incoming batsmen under a lot of pressure. Sehwag took a terrific catch to dismiss James Franklin. That kind of support makes a difference – from three wickets, I could push on to five and finish off the game.
On the delay caused by rain
You’re already battling against an opponent and when you also have to battle against something that’s not in your control, it gets tougher. But we realised that we had to stick to our guns and look to pick one wicket at a time, especially when McCullum and Williamson were batting beautifully.
On his best dimissal in this match
I thought, Jeetan Patel in the first innings and Ross Taylor in the second were the best dismissals. Also, cannot leave Frankiln’s wicket in the second innings behind.
On the partnership between Brendon Mccullum and Kane Williamson
We’ve seen that so many times even in first-class cricket. When two batsmen are gong strong, even on dust bowls, it is very difficult to dislodge them. You have to price them out and be very patient. Once a couple of wickets fall quickly, it becomes that much easier because the new batsman has to move his feet around and get his technique in place. So, you can really attack that time. We knew it was a matter of time and we had to play with the batsmen’s mind there.
On Pragyan Ojha as his spin partner
He’s someone I’ve played with since I was 16 and we’ve always enjoyed each other’s company. Although I was a batsman then and Ojha was a prime bowler, I still used to bowl in one-day games. We always bowled well together because we build pressure very well. He should be given due credit for this game. When one spinner is picking up wickets, the other can get carried away and doesn’t look to keep the batsman down and maintain the pressure at the other end. But Ojha did it really well.
On India’s victory in the U19 World Cup
We were all watching the game together in the dressing room and we wanted India to win. I woke up at 5 o’clock this morning to see what the game was all about. I thought few guys batted really well – Smit Patel batted well today. Baba Aparajith has been doing really well right through the tournament and Unmukt Chand’s innings today was just out of the world; it was brilliant. This victory means much more for the Indian team because it’s happened in Australia. We didn’t have a good time there a few months back, so I’m very pleased that they’ve put one across Australia now.