Grateful Ashwin credits his success to coach Subramaniam

Coming into this series against Australia, R Ashwin might have been wondering how suddenly the world has turned against him after a below par series against England.

The Tamil Nadu offie had tapered off after a cheery beginning in the first Test in Ahmedabad, and while he might attribute it to the tremendous form of England captain Alistair Cook, it was quite evident that something was wrong with his bowling.

“I honestly think I didn’t have a bad series against England,” he said after his six-wicket haul on Friday. “Today, I bowled exactly the same way as I bowled against England, but just that today the wickets were coming.”

He might think differently but on the first day at Chepauk, Ashwin’s bowling was markedly different from what he did in the series against England, reminding one of the bowler who was so devastating against the West Indies in his debut series.

So what has been the difference? “I've got to say this, today’s spell is dedicated to my coach Sunil Subramaniam because he identified a small thing – related to body position – and we worked on it for five-six sessions in between the Corporate Trophy and this series. 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 — that is what he did and all credit goes to him,” said Ashwin.

Subramaniam, a former Tamil Nadu Ranji Trophy player and Ashwin’s coach from his formative years, shed more light into the work he did with his ward after the England series.

“The challenge he faced is playing all three formats of the game and in doing that you have to tinker around with two positions – leg and from the hand. His left foot was far too across at release in the series against England. All the energy and body weight should go towards the intended target. If it’s going away from the target, then either the line will suffer or the length will suffer. So we had six sessions from the Corporate Trophy in February over 10 days.

“First three sessions were in Jamtha, Nagpur and at the old VCA stadium while the three remaining sessions were in Chennai at the RKM School, away from everybody.”
Sunil then explained the process: “I put a grid on the pitch, on the length and line I wanted him to bowl. 108 balls were the target per day. It’s a very auspicious number. You can call it a quirk but something I have deep faith in.”

Subramaniam said effort was made to get Ashwin’s line back to off-stump-oriented. “First thing was about not putting the left foot so far across and then landing the ball on the grid. He was going side-on against England and so the line was shifting to leg and middle. I oriented him to the off-stump line.”

So when did he realise Ashwin had regained his range? “At the sixth session I knew he was back. I immediately call­ed up his dad and mom and told them, ‘Bring on the Aussies!”

Australian debutant Moises Henriques underlined the change in Ashwin. “He doesn’t bowl many bad balls. He’s a very disciplined bowler and he changes his pace up a little. He almost hits the same length all the time. He’s quite hard to score off.”
It might just get harder for the Aussies!

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