Seldom has R. Ashwin smiled of late during India’s post-match press interactions. Friday was expectedly an exception. Not only did the off-spinner return his personal best Down Under but also played a key role in India gaining an upper hand on the second day of the first Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
After setting Steve Smith up in his first over, Ashwin went on a celebratory lap that is usually synonymous with Imran Tahir. Ashwin was thrilled to play Test cricket again after a prolonged break enforced by the pandemic.
“First things first, I’m so happy that we are playing Test cricket again and it has been a long time. Since I am extremely mad about the sport and doing other things even during the lockdown, it felt refreshing to go out and bowl again. I meant the feeling was great, bowling with the pink ball and I hadn’t taken wickets with that… it just felt amazing to go out and play again. I felt like making my debut again. I really enjoyed bowling,” Ashwin said.
Context of the game
“With regards to Steve Smith’s wicket, obviously it is a big wicket. With Steve, you know how much time he loves to bat and his appetite for runs is huge. So in terms of the context of the game and where it was placed, I felt it was an important wicket and I enjoyed it.”
Ashwin stressed that despite getting bowled out for 244, India’s dressing room – based on the Test in Adelaide in 2018 – felt “we were right in the game”. “I think last time we made 250, here we were five to six runs shorter this time, so we knew we were in the contest. I thought we had a bowling performance that was one notch better than the last time,” he said.
Having bowled a long spell with the pink-ball for the first time in a match – he bowled just five overs during India’s maiden pink-ball Test last year – Ashwin felt it was too much to experiment with the new ball in day Tests, as suggested by Shane Warne.
“The pink ball is at a nascent stage of where Test cricket should head forward. It is exciting for a lot of people watching the game.
“Personally, the one where we played in Kolkata was a different because this is Kookaburra and that was played with SG balls,” he said.
“To try too many things, pushing players to a certain brim, I’m not sure. But there is space for pink-ball Tests.”