I have never got wickets on such a pitch, says elated Ashwin

The 25-year-old took six for 47 on Tuesday, becoming only the seventh Indian to take five wickets on debut for India. “I didn’t expect any number of wickets,” revealed Ashwin, “but before the match, I was hoping to get a five-wicket haul and score some runs as well. Unfortunately, the second part did not happen.”

Ashwin was asked how, as a promising youngster, he felt replacing someone like Harbhajan Singh in the team. “You have given the answer yourself, everyone knows what the bridge is between me and Harbhajan. I am a youngster and he is a senior pro who has done his job. When I am given my duties, I need to live up to my conscience and do my job.”

There wasn’t much help from the Kotla strip for the spinners. “I have never got wickets on such a wicket,” Ashwin offered. “It is not my bread and butter as I need spin and bounce. There was nothing for the batsmen or the bowlers. If the batter is not patient enough, you can get a wicket. Today, I tried to bowl a wee bit quicker and it paid off.”

Asked if there had been any nerves on the first morning, he replied, “I didn’t feel any nerves but yes, the body wasn’t moving the way I wanted it to in the first few overs. I didn’t know whether my hip was turning, whether the release was perfect. All I was doing was concentrating because I have never seen a wicket that is so less receptive to so many revolutions on the ball. Frankly, I thought I was doing something wrong.

“But as time went on, I just had to handle myself. I don’t think I had that many nerves. To be honest, I never thought I would be playing alongside so many legends. Probably I am blessed to play alongside Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.”
On Tuesday, Ashwin picked up the key wickets of Marlon Samuels and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the best players of spin in the West Indian ranks. “I thought I plotted well against Samuels. He was probably playing for the turn and worried about the bat-pad to short-leg but at the Kotla, you know that it won’t carry to short-leg. Unfortunately he did not know that and he was looking for the spin and it went straight on.

“For Chanderpaul, I was bowling round the wicket in the first innings and he was comfortable, so I came over the wicket, was just trying a different angle. Fortunately it worked and it was a vital wicket.”

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