Cricket

Ashwin defends spinning pitches


India’s top spinner R. Ashwin feels that playing on pitches that offer turn from day one is not too different to tackling seaming conditions.

“It is about being patient, just like when you play on a seaming wicket. You need to tide through the early phase and start putting runs on the board,” said Ashwin when asked if the pitch was challenging to bat on as England was shot out for 134 in its first innings.

“We will be putting up another batting performance on it,” he added.

“When it comes to spin, they want conditions to be in their favour, be it driving or cutting. On a seaming wicket, you can’t do all that when you play in the morning. So the same benchmarks must be set when you play spin on a challenging wicket,” said Ashwin, who finished with a five-wicket haul to put the home side in control of the second Test here on Sunday.

“I would say that the challenges are far greater when the ball is moving at 140-150 kph off the deck compared to a ball spinning at 85-90 kph,” he said.

When he dismissed Ben Stokes, he became the second-highest wicket-taker for India at home, overtaking Harbhajan Singh (265). Only Anil Kumble (350) has more wickets in home Tests. Ashwin is also the first bowler to have 200 dismissals against left-handers.

“When I was watching the 2001 series between India and Australia when Harbhajan was playing, I didn’t even imagine I would go on to become an off-spinner for India. I was still a batsman for my State.

Try and bowl like him

“Back then, a lot of my teammates used to make fun of me because I used to try and bowl like him. From there, to break his tally, is incredibly special. I didn’t know about it. Now that I know, I feel happy,” said th 34-year-old.

Tough conditions

England assistant coach Graham Thorpe felt that the conditions were demanding and early wickets had pegged the team back.

“It was challenging for us on that surface on day two. They are a skilled spin attack in these conditions and it was a very good toss to win (for India).

“We know the pitches deteriorate here as the game goes on and this one has gone a bit quicker,” said Thorpe.

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