Pressure is off my back, says offie

After notching up his career best 12/85 against New Zealand in the opening Test here on Sunday, R Ashwin said it was a good beginning for the Indian team that enjoyed some highs but experienced great lows last year.

“Yes, as a whole, the team had a tough year but it happens with every team. We have put that behind and we are starting on a good note. Hopefully, we can continue and have a great season. Personally speaking, (I) feel really happy.

“I don’t get too happy or bogged down by performances; whether it is too bad or great. But yes, it’s a good start. The pressure is off my back, I can enjoy myself and let the ball do the talking, and look at the various areas that I need to work on constantly. There is still a long way to go -- nine more Tests to go this season,” he elaborated.

The New Zealand appeared all at sea facing Ashwin and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha. The off-spinner agreed that the visiting batsmen may be having mental block against spin bowling. “You could say that. But last time when New Zealand were here, they batted really well and almost drew the series.

But this is a good start. As a team, we knew this was not a venue where we had won last time, so came here with a lot of apprehensions but at the end of the day, I thought we did really well as a unit and won the Test match in four days. I think there will be a much stiffer contest in Bangalore. The batsmen will come out with better plans. So, we will also have to be up for it.”

The catching, especially by Virat Kohli and Virender Sehwag, was excellent in the match, a sign of great assurance for the tweakers in the post Dravid-Laxman era. “I thought there were a couple of very good catches that were pulled out,” Ashwin began.

“As a spinner, you know when catches are being taken, it puts the batsmen under a lot of pressure and it’s definitely something you relish as a spinner. I thought it was a terrific catch by Sehwag to dismiss Franklin.

That’s the kind of support you expect. From three wickets, I could push one to five wickets and close out the game today. So, it makes a difference,” he reasoned while adding that he enjoyed the dismissals of Jeetan Patel in the first innings (caught and bowled) and Ross Taylor in second.

Meanhile, Cheteswar Pujara, who suffered a hit on his knee while fielding at the forward short leg, was cleared of any major injury. The Saurashtra batsman has been diagnosed with a knee bruise, and dshould be up and running for the second Test in Bangalore, beginning on August 31.

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