A year ago, spinner Ravi Ashwin had slowly slipped to the margins. So much so, that even he thought he wouldn’t feature in the playing XI in Australia, something he has repeatedly acknowledged in his recent post-match interactions and interviews with the media. However, his career has seen a massive turnaround. Ashwin has arguably been in the best form of his life, first down under and now again in the ongoing home series against England.
In Australia, not only did he shine with the ball but also with the bat, especially in the second innings of the Sydney test where he, along with Hanuma Vihari, saved the game for his country. With 12 wickets in three games, he was the second-highest wicket-taker for India.
And now, the star spinner has revealed the secret of his stellar performance in a one-on-one interaction with fielding coach R Sridhar. Ashwin saidhe watches a lot of footage before preparing for the game.
Speaking of his success down under, he said that before the Adelaide Test, he watched the footage for eight straight hours, adding planning for any game goes to a different level for him. “I do not know why I started doing it but it’s just that I do not want to leave any stone unturned,” Ashwin said.
During the lockdown, Ashwinstarted watching a lot of cricket from the past, including Sachin Tendulkar’s hundred at the Chepauk, Chennai. And that’s when he started watching and analysing footage differently. “It became fun because I am able to pick batsmen like what they are doing and even before I bowl the ball, I kind of understand what kind of shot they are going to play,” he said.
In the pink-ball test against England, Ashwin’s seven wickets made him the second-fastest bowler to pick 400 wickets in Test cricket. When asked about his initial feelings about such a major feat, he said it was “quite empty", for Indians were “under immense pressure".
Ashwin says Indians were leading only by 30 runs after the first innings and it could still have been anyone’s game. Only after captain Kohli took the DRS, did Ashwin realise that it was his 400th scalp in tests. After they flashed the 400 wickets on the board, the entire stadium was up and everyone was clapping.
The star of the show at the newly inaugurated Narendra Modi stadium was Axar Patel who sent the English batsmen packing one after another. The left-arm spinner picked 11 wickets — six in the first innings and another five in the second — in the game, helping India comprehensively defeat England by 10 wickets. India have now taken an insurmountable 2-1 lead in the four-match series. The last game will once again be played at the Motera Stadium.