Ashwin blasts Mumbai pitch

 “This is my eighth game here (Wankhede), it is the first time I have seen a wicket like this,” the Tamil Nadu off-spinner said. “I am quite surprised. It is very much like the practice wicket to the left, I was praying it wouldn’t be like that but… Wankhede is one of the most sporting wickets in India, it is disappointing to see it behave like this.

“If I had to say I need help on the first day of a Test match, I would not be happy as a cricketer or a cricket fan, but bounce is definitely something you expect. I felt cheated in that regard. The second-day wicket was like a first-day wicket. It’s very hard to define a wicket in India. When they say it is a true wicket, the batting team ends up scoring 500-plus. And when it is a bad wicket, a team folds up for 150. It has to be first defined what is a bad wicket for a batsman and what is a bad one for the bowler.”

Ashwin’s figures, four for 154 from 51 overs, are a reflection of his attacking mindset. “Four for 150 is quite a cost,” he admitted. “It is more about going at the batsmen. Yesterday, I went at the batsmen much more than today. Yesterday, I had to create the chances. Today was more of a catch-up game.”

Warming to the theme of wicket-taking, Ashwin went on, “At the end of the day, wickets are the result of persistence and good bowling. I have tried to be consistent and work out a plan, be around the off-stump and avoid the pads of the batsman, especially right-handers. It has paid off well in this series. I have always maintained that I never set goals in terms of numbers. Numbers are a result of what you do and sometimes, the numbers don’t reflect what you have done.

“The wickets will help boost confidence, but I want to look at the process and not the results alone. Yesterday, I thought I bowled really well but did not get enough wickets. At the end of the day, you have to be consciously happy with what you have done.”

Praising centurion Darren Bravo’s approach, Ashwin remarked, “Notes are definitely needed to be taken on what I need to work on while bowling to Bravo, where can I attack him. Once he is set, he is quite an ominous batsman, not easy to contain. He is coming with a strategy which is very evident, just to block the ball so that it neither hits the pad nor takes an edge. If the wicket spins a little, I will have a better chance against him.”

Of the match itself, Ashwin said, “Like Ranji Trophy, we will have to take the first-innings lead. Tomorrow, we will be in a better position to say how we are placed.”

And the lessons learned from Test cricket so far? “Be ready to bowl more and more,” he smiled.

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