India are all set to face Sri Lanka in first Test of the three-match series which is scheduled to begin from July 26. Indian off-spinners on Monday shared about his plans for this tour and how is he seeing his 50th Test of the career.
“Coming to the place where I did really well last time in 2015 is like a dream come true because I was making a comeback in the Test side at that point and I got a ten-for. It brings back a lot of memories coming back to the same venue. 50th Test is definitely something that’s come about. I am not able to go back and re-trace it but very grateful for reaching here and every Test match is a blessing for me,” Ashwin said.
Talking about his targets, the off-spinner insisted that he is eyeing one match at a time.
“Looking behind, I might have set some targets but I don’t think I will be setting targets looking ahead because that’s what the past has taught me. You can’t get ahead of yourself. The most important thing is to try and get better every single day because international cricket is really cruel and it can make you sit back if you are sitting back on your past. It’s very important to go ahead and try and take one Test match at once.”
“Preparation time and what I wanna tick as a cricketer getting into a Test match is pretty much the same but I think general awareness as a cricketer,” he added.
India visited Sri Lanka in 2015 for a three-match Test series and emerged victorious in it by 2-1. Since they have become a great force especially in the longer format and Ashwin did talk about the transformation.
“In 2015 we were in the middle of leadership take over as Virat had just taken over in Australia. Then we came here after having played one Test match against Bangladesh. having said that, we had set a lot of goals for each other and I would say we have achieved a lot of them with flying colours over the last couple of days as a group, as a team. We have produced a lot of good cricketers. Some young guys have come in and put their hands up and some of the other guys have excelled very well that includes me, Jadeja, Pujara. From there on a lot of people have put their hands up and we have kind of become a very good unit. Sometimes, I feel good cricketers lose out in this particular team because of the quality we have in the dressing room,” he said.
When asked about some of his special moments from his career, Ashwin was quick to reply that getting the award of cricketer of the year last year something he would cherish.
“Being a cricketer of the year last year was an icing on the cake The 4-0 triumph over England. England were a far better side than what the research showed. It was kind of a boxing game every time we came out to play England. It was a very closely fought series. We won some of the tight moments. The final Test against Australia in Bangalore. It was the fourth day when we won the match after trailing 0-1 at Pune,” he told.
“Some of the individuals have put their hands up and done exceedingly well for the team to get here.”
Ravid Shastri was appointed India’s head coach and this would be his first assignment with Virat’s troops after taking up the job. Talking about Shastri, the right-hander admitted that the former Indian captain does bring a lot of positive energy in the dressing room.
“We well past that moment. the decision has beeen made and the decision is definitely something on which I can’t comment on. Ravi bhai has been fabulous person in the dressing room. Last time, he was here in Galle and we lost the Test and he really picked all of us from that low point on our careers and he is someone who can have a positive influence in the dressing room. We are looking forward to working together.”
“I would say yes because the amount of pressure that is put on not only within the team but outside, external factor and this is an excellent Indian team. If you see teams around the world, the players do get an extended run. The youngsters get extended run to play than in India and that’s simply because we do have some excellent cricketers sitting outside as well,” Ashwin added.
When asked about how Ashwin himself has transformed, he accepted that he has become a lot calmer and is looking to get better with his bowling.
“I am a lot more calmer. I was looking to perform desperately because at times my performances need to better to get me somewhere in my career. I have always lived that way. I do take things in the stride. Bad days are a part of cricketer’s career. I think I have become a far better cricketer than what I was in 2015 when I last came here.”
Though he has scored four Test hundreds, Ashwin does feel that he has a lot to offer with the willow as well.
“I have achieved reasonably well with the bat. I do set high benchmarks for myself, I would like to say that I’m low on my average. I started with 42-43 but it came down to 32-33. I could have done a lot better with the tennis elbow issues. It did pull me down as a Test batsman but yes the graph is back up there and I am batting pretty well.”
“It doesn’t mean that much to me to be honest. As a cricketer I want to be excellent. I just don’t want to be a surviver by an switch of my imagination. If it doesn’t go my, it doesn’t go my way, I can do a lot in other careers in my. I think I’m intelligent enough to hold on to things. I will do things untill I enjoy it. The day I think I can’t cope up more or I can’t be excellent on the field or can’t perform to best of my abilities I don’t think anybody needs to tell me. I have a lot of pride about myself.”
“If you look back in these 49 Tests, it has been a very enjoyable ride. I had a lot of overseas tours in the initial stage of my career and it has shown me what Test cricket is all about,” added Ashwin.
Hailing Indian women’s team performance in the final, the Indian bowler said that the kind of game play the girls have put up will change the way women’s cricket is percieved in India.
“I really thought they will win the game. The final of the World Cup was extremely intense. I though the ladies put out an extra-ordinary effort but it’s quitre unfortunate, it didn’t end our way. It’s very difficult to put a finger but the effort has put women’s cricket right on track and it gonna change the way women’s cricket is percieved in India and that’s the way looking at the result. They put in an excellent effort and it was fabulous effort from all of them,” he concluded.