It has been a remarkable series against New Zealand for Ravichandran Ashwin with 20 wickets so far but India’s off-spinner says he has struggled to get into rhythm at the start of his spells.
Ashwin bowled superbly on Monday to take six for 81 to skittle out the visitors for 299.
“It’s very important for me to get into a good rhythm. Through this series I have not really started in a fine rhythm. I’m trying to get my alignment and rhythm properly, it’s taking me a few overs. Once I go through it, and when my body starts going completely into the ball, the spells start getting better, and that was one of the spells after lunch,” he said.
India, who made a massive 557 for 5 declared, thus grabbed a lead of 258 to place themselves in the driver’s seat at the end of day three of the third Test.
“It’s about getting into a good rhythm and being able to accelerate and get through the crease fast. So that’s what I really look forward to and once I get into a good rhythm, I think I can beat any batsman in the world. That’s where I stand right now,” said the off-spinner who is the second fastest bowler in the world to reach the 200 Test wicket landmark.
“I come into the series with a plan, especially taking off from where Kane Williamson got out in Bangalore when they came here last year. He lunged forward and got out at slips. So that’s one of the things I thought I would repeat in this series,” he explained about his excellently planned dismissal of the visiting team’s captain in the post lunch period.
Although Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav ended wicket-less, Ashwin praised the bowling of the pace duo. “It (support) was very important, it was a very, very difficult wicket to bowl on. The way Shami and Umesh bowled in the morning, they never let go of the steam. Especially Umesh bowled very quick through the day. Hopefully they can get some good returns in the second innings.”
About Ravindra Jadeja’s support, Ashwin said that the left arm spinner was good in deceiving batsmen with straight balls on a track with some help to the spin bowlers. “That’s Jaddu’s strength, he does it well,” he said.
Ashwin also defended India s strategy of not enforcing the follow on, saying both he and Jadeja were tired after bowling long spells. “Because Jaddu and I had bowled almost 30 overs each and so it was very difficult to enforce the follow and so we had to bat. There is more time in the game, so it made sense to bat on,” he explained.
He also said that the wicket sported more roughs on the side opposite to the pavilion. “It’s turning more bowling from the pavilion end, because there’s more rough, because of the left-arm fast bowler’s foot-marks. That’s not spinning a lot, hopefully it will deteriorate,” said the off-spinner who took all his wickets by bowling from the pavilion end and so too did Jadeja.
Asked about the strategy when the New Zealand openers Martin Guptill and Tom Latham put on a century stand, Ashwin said it was to contain the run-flow first and create pressure. “Our plan was very simple, not to give the runs, and the more boundaries we cut, the better it would be. We also thought this outfield is very quick, so the boundaries go very fast. That happened in the first session, and Latham and Guptill batted very well.
“We thought we would try and reduce the run rate and try and create some pressure in terms of maiden overs. That was the plan. Obviously, that was a good spell I got after lunch, I got going and then things changed.”
He also praised coach Anil Kumble’s inputs right through the series during matches. “We have good discussions on cricket, good discussions on what we could be doing for different batsmen. He gives different plans about how we can change up when we go into lunch or tea. If somebody is batting well, he gives you different ideas about what fields you can have, how differently I can throw the ball wide into Tom Latham, for instance, at Eden (Gardens).
“It was Anil Kumble’s idea in the tea break. He was the one who asked me to push the lines wider and see how it goes, and it worked. He s also a person I can go to and talk to and take feed-backs. I enjoy the conversations I have with him.”
He also praised the New Zealanders as being a better batting unit in the series than South Africa and Australia in the recent past. “The wickets (In this series) are far different to those on which South Africa had played on, Nagpur for example. But I would say New Zealand have batted well and they have been more in the game than any other touring team recently.”