In his current form and rhythm, there is not much R Ashwin can do wrong with a cricket ball in his hand. His 21 wickets in three Tests architected India’s series win in Sri Lanka. Back home after two years of overseas tours, Team India were bolstered by Ashwin’s wily spin skills on the second day of the Mohali Test to gain an upper-hand in the match.
His 5 for 51 to bundle South Africa out for 184 was Ashwin’s 13th five-wicket haul in Test cricket, én route to 150 Test wickets. And India’s ace spinner could not be happier about his bowling rhythm.
“For a bowler it is just about how the ball is coming out of your hands,” he said. “For me it is coming out really well, so I don’t think I will require to do much to get turn from any pitch at this point of time.”
While he enjoys his dream run, Ashwin also looked back at the days that taught him valuable lessons, making him the bowler he is today.
“There have been times in the past when I thought I will get wickets quickly if I spin one across and straighten one. But unfortunately that’s not how Test cricket goes. It has been a good lesson for me, and thankfully I have learned pretty quickly. Now I just look to bowl good spells, try and get control over the batsman over a period of time and make sure I produce a good ball in that period,” he said.
The Mohali wicket has been under the scanner since a few days before the Test. With 22 wickets already fallen in two days, the chatter has only grown louder. Ashwin reckoned the wicket got better for the batsmen on the second day and that batsmen had an equal role to play in the score with their shot selection.
“I thought the wicket was better to bat today than it was yesterday. I think it is the batting that makes the wicket look good or bad.
“It is very important to bowl good pace on this wicket. I haven’t seen any batsman getting out while defending, apart from Vijay, where he thrust forward in defence and got out. As a batsman it is very important to use your feet and find the areas you want to score runs in,” he said.
One of Ashwin’s five victims was the Proteas’ opening batsman, Dean Elgar, who was caught at backward point trying to slog it against the spin.
As the batsman began to walk back, Ashwin was seen having a word with him. “Elgar, I have seen him bat; I had a wonderful time watching him bat on YouTube last night. He has done that a lot – slogging against the spin – in Johannesburg. I saw him coming and I knew he was going to play that shot. When he did and got out I made it a point to tell him that this is not Johannesburg,” Ashwin said.