London: It has not been so far good for senior India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin during India’s ongoing tour of England. He has missed out on the first two Tests as he has not found a place in the playing XI. Whatever the reasons may be, it must have caused Ashwin some heartburn, more so because he has more than 400 wickets in his kitty.
However, Ravi Ashwin is trying to take all that in his stride. He has said that he was asked to be ready for the second Test against England. This was due to the prevailing heat wave here. However, the steady showers on match day put a spanner on his hopes of making it to the playing XI. India persisted with their four pacer strategy which worked well as 19 wickets were picked up in 151-run victory.
“What was the weather forecast for the match? Heatwave. The funny thing was, before the match, they were telling me, Heat wave, neenga readya irunga (meaning there’s a Heat wave. You please be ready mate. You might play). When we came to have breakfast, it was pouring…,” Ashwin said on his YouTube show KuttyStory with Indian fielding coach R Sridhar. He then added, ‘weather is not in our hands’. Ashwin was apparently referring to his not being picked keeping the weather conditions in mind.
Sridhar, in response to a question, said the team had a ‘great bowling attack’. He added ‘to keep the world’s best spinner out of the XI is not easy’.
Both agreed that openers – Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul played a key role – in India’s emphatic win.
“Rahul came out and played like a dream,” Ashwin said of his getting into the team. Meanwhile, Sridhar said, “Rahul was the fourth opener going into the series, but his preparation has been extraordinary. I have been feeding him a lot of throwdowns. He has found some way to score runs in England as an opener, even back in 2018 where he scored a 100 in Oval.”
On his part, Ashwin lavished praise on Rohit. “Also, a word on Rohit’s defence this series. Rohit has played the cover drives, pulls, etc. All those are glorious. When Rohit bats, we all know he oozes class. But coming to his defence, it feels as though the bat is falling from his hand…”
Sridhar said Rohit practised a lot and had the drive to succeed in England. “Hands in the pocket! The hands don’t come out. The hands are held so close to the body, whether it is leaving the ball or playing the ball. He had practised that a lot! He practised it so much that he started getting a pain in the wrist,” Sridhar said.
Ashwin chipped in by saying, “England generally is not a place where opening is easy. In 2014, M Vijay put up a masterclass. He would leave the ball that passed very close to the stumps…”
Ashwin and Sridhar also hailed the role played by Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah with the bat in the second innings with a spirited partnership and their role along with Mohammed Siraj and Ishant Sharma in fashioning the memorable victory.