Ind vs Eng: Seasoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Tuesday revealed that he had toiled hard during the coronavirus enforced lockdown last year to improve his batting and footwork.
Ashwin hit a match-winning hundred on Monday as India scored 286 runs in their second innings. A pitch where all England cricketers struggled to find their feet, Ashwin came out with flying colours picking eight wickets and scoring his fifth Test ton.
“During the COVID lockdown I practiced a lot with throwing balls on the ball and then batting to improve my drive and footwork and it became good and everything just added up when I hit the century. The reactions were natural,” Ashwin said during the post-match presentation after India’s win.
Ashwin was the show-stopper for India on the third day as he bagged a crucial wicket of opener Rory Burns after hitting the century. The right-arm spinner truly relished the moment as soon as he reached his hundred.
Describing the feeling Ashwin said, “It was my dream to play a Test match in Chepauk and I never thought I would play a Test here and fans will cheer for me. I played my first Test here in 2013 when Dhoni (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) hit a 200 and I took 12 wickets.”
“That was a different feeling altogether but this time it was something else. Taking wickets is good but my century is something else as it came after five years. Many people were frustrated as they thought we have batting abilities but were not able to live up to the expectations. The problem is everyone has an opinion nowadays, they don’t think how a batsman is thinking what kind of help does he require,” Ashwin added.
On Monday, Ashwin credited batting coach Vikram Rathour for his success in the red-ball cricket with the bat.
“I will sleep well through the night, that is all that I am thinking. Even after the last Test, we spoke about how we are going to counter Leach and probably bring sweep to the game. Last time, I was sweeping, I was 19 years old, I hit a bit of sweep shots well today. I am thankful the plan has paid off,” Ashwin told host broadcaster after the conclusion of play on Monday.
“Sort of had a very good day. I can’t say it’s been happening in the last three days, I have been practicisng with Vikram Rathore (batting coach), I would love to credit him with how my batting has come through over the last four-five matches,” he added.
India levelled the four-match Test series 1-1 against England after an emphatic 317-run win in the second Test here at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday.
India remains in contention to make the final of the ICC World Test Championship after completing an impressive victory over England in the second Test to draw level in the four-match series.
The victory in Chennai on Tuesday has lifted India to the second position with 69.7 percentage points on the points table but they cannot afford to lose another match as they need to win 2-1 or 3-1 to qualify for the final of the maiden edition of the championship.
England, who led the table after winning the opening Test, has slipped to the fourth spot with 67.0 percentage points. They can still qualify, but for that, they must win both remaining matches of the series against India.