Ravichandran Ashwin, who surpassed the tally of Harbhajan Singh’s wickets in Test cricket in India, said it is an “incredibly special” achievement and admitted that he had never imagined that he would become an off-spinner for the country.
On the 2nd day of 2nd test while getting 5/43 , Ashwin took his number of wickets in Test cricket in India to 268, surpassing Harbhajan’s tally of 265 wickets. Ashwin is now only behind Anil Kumble, who atop the list with 350 wickets.
“When I was watching the 2001 series where Bhajji was playing, I did not even imagine that I would go on to become an off-spinner for the country. I was still a batsman for my state, trying to accelerate a career towards batting and playing for the country. I was not even sure that I was going to become a player for the India cricket team,” Ashwin said in the virtual press conference after the end of the day’s play.
“A lot of my teammates from that generation used to make fun of me because I used to bowl like Bhajji and I used to try to bowl like him. From there on to actually break a record of something that he posses is something incredibly special. I didn’t know it but now that I know it, I do feel happy,” he said.
Commenting on Axar’s debut performance, Ashwin said: “Axar is a bowler who has been playing first-class cricket for a while now and he has had a share of his good performances… Getting Joe Root in his first Test must have been really special for him and very important wicket in the context of where the game stands and also getting the wicket of Moeen Ali. I think he will go really well in the second innings.”
On Rishabh Pant’s keeping Ashwin mentioned on his improvement and his hard work in the nets stating that he has been at times unfairly compared to great keepers who have played for years like Dhoni or Saha. He should be given a break from all comparisons and allowed to built in his confidence.
On being asked about the nature of the pitch in view of a lots of social media criticisms by former players like Michael Vaughan and Mark Waugh ,
Ashwin said England have played very well in these seven days of Test cricket and he has not heard anyone complaining about the conditions.
“I don’t not know if they have complaints in the first place… In all honestly, the seven days of Test cricket that we have played so far, England have played really well, competed really well, I haven’t seen any of them complaining or anything like that. But time and again there are conditions which will challenge you, be it spin or with seam,” the spinner said.
“I mean the only comparison I can say is when the bowl is moving around at 140-150, clicks off the deck, that has to be more challenging than somebody bowling at 85-90, when the ball is spinning, clearly the challenges are way greater when you come up against seam. It is just the same way when you play spin, you have to give it to the bowler, take your time, buy your time, and then probably cash a little later, it is another form of art, that’s it. It is as simple as that,” Ashwin added.
By Amitava Mukherjee