Ashwin celebrates reaching the three-figure mark at Eden Gardens. (IANS)
Kolkata, Nov 8: After scoring a crucial hundred that set the stage for India's emphatic innings win over the West Indies in the first cricket Test match here on Friday, Ravichandran Ashwin refuses the tag of either a tailender or a batsman.
"I don't expect to be called anything (whether a tailender or a batsman)," Ashwin said at a media meet after India trounced the West Indies by an innings and 51 runs at the Eden Gardens here.
"I am just doing my job and would like to keep improving all the time and look at offering my best for the team. Its never something that I have gone after. There will be never something that I will go after," Ashwin said.
Ashwin struck a brilliant 124 and stitched together an Indian record of 280 runs for the seventh wicket with Rohit Sharma that put India in a strong position.
Having scored 740 runs with 97 wickets in 17 Test matches, Ashwin is well on course to have a shot at English all-rounder Ian Botham's world record of completing a double (1000 runs and 100 wickets) in 21 matches.
The Indian record is in the name of Kapil Dev who completed the "double" in 25 Test matches.
Mumbai Test will be emotional: Ashwin
Having seen the hype around batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell series here, Ashwin is finding it difficult to imagine the scenes in Mumbai, where the legend will play his swansong Test match.
He said the Test will be an emotional moment for the man and the team.
“Having seen what has happened in this match I can’t probably imagine what will happen in his 200th match. We will know only when we get there," said Ashwin.
“At one point of time I had my stomach cramped up watching him bat and getting out. Every youngster has gone through that whoever loved the game but being in the dressing room is different from when I used to watch him. It will be emotional for him and for us as well,” added Ashwin.
Am a big fan of Rohit: Ashwin
A self-confessed fan of batsman Rohit Sharma, Ashwin said he enjoyed his time in the middle with the Mumbaikar, as the duo batted West Indies out of the Eden Gardens Test.
"I am a very big fan of Rohit. He always batted high up the order so I never got a chance to bat with him until this match."
"I just went out there and thought that if Rohit has a good day and if I can stick around with him, it could be a lovely partnership together."
"We enjoyed the time together and we communicated with each other well and had a good time," Ashwin said at the post-match media conference.
Ashwin scored 124 - his second ton against the West Indies - and stitched an Indian record partnership of 280 runs for the seventh wicket with fellow centurion Rohit as the hosts trounced the visitors by an innings and 51 runs.
Ashwin, who in 2011 scored his maiden hundred against the same opponents in Mumbai, said the latest one was significant as India were in trouble when he came in to bat.
"The last time I got the hundred I had nothing to think about. I just enjoyed my time and went out there and batted. But here it was different. We were in trouble. Although we were in trouble then (two years back), I didn't have anything to lose."
"But here we could have lost the game from there. So just started to stick out and looked to build a partnership," said Ashwin who came in to the crease with India struggling at 156/6 on day two.
Ashwin said the good night's sleep he had before the third day boosted his energy level to notch up his second ton.
"I slept really well," said Ashwin with a chuckle.
He went on to add: "I was pleased with what I did yesterday and probably a bit more pleased today."
'Hope Shami carries the momentum'
Ashwin is all praise for pacer Mohammad Shami for his dream debut performance, and hopes he would carry the momentum to form a potent Indian pace attack.
Shami, who used the old ball to telling effect, decimated the West Indies batting line-up to finish with match figures of 9/118. It was the best Test debut by an Indian fast bowler.
"Shami bowled really well. Getting the ball to reverse late and it is getting half the job done when a seamer gets through to the tail. He bowled with good pace and got the ball to swing late and I am very happy for him."
"He got a nine-wicket haul and I hope he carries it through and forms a potent attack with the senior bowlers," said Ashwin.
"When you start getting to reverse, you tend to bowl full, making it easier for the batsman. But what Shami did to the batsmen was brilliant as he hit the deck and got the ball to move off the seam. He was brilliant," said the 27-year-old.
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