New Delhi: The questions on newly appointed head coach Ravi Shastri refuses to die down and while R Ashwin was hoping to speak to the media about the first Test against Sri Lanka — his 50th — the question on Shastri replacing Anil Kumble was inevitable. And the off-spinner refused to get into a debate on the whole selection episode.
But Ashwin did reveal that Shastri has been a fabulous person to have in the dressing room and also reminded the scribes that it was the head coach — then team director — who picked the boys up and motivated them after they lost the opening Test in the 2015 series in Sri Lanka. India ultimately went on to win the series.
“I saw that question coming (smiles). We are past that moment, the decision has been made and the decision is not something that I can really comment on. But Ravi bhai has been a fabulous person to have in the dressing room. The last time we were here and we lost the Test in Galle, he was the one who picked us up from that low point of our careers. He is someone who can have a really positive influence in the dressing room. We are looking forward to working together,” he said.
Commenting on his 50th Test match, Ashwin said: “50th Test is definitely something that has come about. I am not able to go back and retrace how I did it. I am very grateful to have gotten here. I think every Test match is a blessing from here on. To come back where I did really well last time round (in 2015) is like a dream come true. It was a momentous occasion for me back then as I was on my way back into the Test side and I got a six-for on the first day and went on to get a 10-for on the fourth day, no, third day I think. It brings back a lot of good memories.”
Asked if he had set some targets, Ashwin said that while he did in his initial years, he no longer looks at setting targets.
“Looking behind I might have set some targets, but looking ahead I will not because that is what the past has taught me. You can’t really get ahead of yourself. The most important thing is to get better every single day because international cricket is very very cruel and it can really sort you out if you are sitting back on your past laurels. It is very important to put it behind. Yes, you can have a cup of coffee and think about it and reminiscent it really well, but it is very important to go ahead,” he said.
Asked about his preparations going into a game, Ashwin said: “Preparation time and what I want to tick as a cricketer getting into a Test match is pretty much the same, but I think awareness as a cricketer and my general experience I can pretty well sense. Even today at practice I was able to sense what sort of an experience I can go into the match with, what learnings I can put into practice. All these things give me more knowledge and perspective going into the game.”
Asked about the difference in the team that toured the Island Nation in 2015 to the current team, Ashwin said that back then the boys were trying to find their ground having just seen a change in leadership.
“In 2015, I think we were sandwiched in the middle of a leadership takeover between MS (Dhoni) and Virat (Kohli). Virat had just taken over in Australia and we came here after having played one Test in Bangladesh. Ravi (Shastri) had set a lot of goals for each other and I will say we have achieved it and come out with flying colours over the last couple of years as a group, as a team. Some young guys have come in and put their hands up and some of the other guys have excelled really well including Jadeja, me, Puji (Cheteshwar Pujara). He has made a sort of a comeback because I don’t think Puji was a part of the Test match we played here, but he came off in the third Test and played exceedingly well. We have kind of become a very good unit,” he said.
Talking about his best moments over the last 49 Test matches, Ashwin said: “Being the cricketer of the year last year was the icing on the cake. It has to be one of the special moments. The 4-0 triumph we managed to achieve over England. They were a far better side than what the result showed. It was like a boxing game every time we went out to play England. Also the fourth day of the Bangalore Test (against Australia) where we can back from being 0-1 down in Pune.”
As for his favourite wickets, Ashwin said: “Getting Sangakarra in the second Test on the last tour, AB de Villiers in Nagpur. Can’t think from the top of my head right now, but probably Shaun Marsh in the second innings in Sydney. David Warner in Bangalore. There have been quite a few good balls that I have bowled.”
Live Score, News & WC 2019 Updates