Chennai: A slight adjustment to his body position seemed to have worked wonders for Ravichandran Ashwin. The off-spinner, who picked up six wickets on the opening day, rattled Australia until Michael Clarke and Moises Henriques did the rescue act.
“Today’s spell is dedicated to my coach Sunil Subramaniam because he identified a small thing and worked on it for five-six sessions in between the Corporate Trophy and this series. The credit goes to him because it’s very easy to spot a mistake, but that mistake’s root cause could be somewhere else.
“But to exactly nail that, and to get me out of that is what he did and all credit goes to him. It was about body position, nothing else...” the off-spinner said at a media conference. “Apart from touching up a few things with my coach, I didn’t do anything at all. That’s the beauty of this game. Suddenly, if someone gets on a roll...The way (Alastair) Cook batted against us, he took the momentum away...That was probably the difference between the two teams, how you start the series, how you end up plugging things...
“He was in super form. I mean, you can’t say that we didn’t bowl well, or that our bowling was rubbish. I don’t agree to that, because he batted beautifully through the series, and put us on the back foot.”
Ashwin stressed he didn’t bowl badly versus England though he wasn’t among the wickets. “I honestly think I didn’t have a bad series against England. You’re supposed to have your opinion and I won’t barge in on that, but I bowled exactly the same as I bowled against England...The only difference is today the wickets were coming.
“These things do happen. Everyone sitting a distance away tend to have an opinion...So I’ve got into a mindset where I actually have to put that behind and go about doing what I do best.”
How did he prepare for this series? “I don’t prepare for anything particular, to be very honest. I don’t prepare in a special way for Australia or England...I do have my plans in place for different batsmen. I think that’s professionalism, as a cricketer. “I believe in certain strengths I have, I turn up and keep practising. If it turns out well, it turns out well...Otherwise it doesn’t. It’s as simple as that.”
The off-spinner admitted that at one point when he had picked all six wickets to fall he did think of repeating Anil Kumble’s feat of taking all ten. “I’d be lying if I said no! Because the way things were going since the morning, the way the ball was coming out of my hand, I thought it’s a real possibility here.
“But in between I had an injury on my finger, a minor one, and had to go off the field. That took the momentum out a bit. Henriques and Clarke got in and they batted beautifully after that.”
Was Clarke’s innings the turning point? “The wicket actually got better later on. Having said that, I think we need to pack them up in another 20-30 runs. Yes, we could have reduced their score by 60-70 runs if he’d been given out. But it does happen, it’s part of the game.”
He was very sporting about Kumar Dharmasena ruling Clarke not out despite TV replays suggesting otherwise. “It was clear to me that he hit the ball, that’s why we all went up to appeal. At the end of the day, it does happen. And Dharamasena is himself an off-spinner...We thought he’d give a few dismissals to me, to look at the lighter side,” he quipped.
Would it have helped had the DRS been in place in the series? “What if we’d gone for DRS and didn’t have another review left?”
He isn’t sure how the pitch will behave. “The pitch looked very dirty (muddy), to be very honest. After the first 5-10 overs, we thought it was going to spin like a top. But it actually didn’t spin at all, to be honest.
“There were a few balls when you tossed it up and they jumped a little bit. It’s been slow. I think on this same square, or the next wicket the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu game produced 1,000 runs, and Karnataka won.
“I think it’s going to get slow, and hopefully Starc would create some rough for the second innings.”