Ashwin hopes for turnaround
It is not often that India players get affected by what is being said in the media, the conventional one or the social variety. There is just too much around, and the players prefer to spend as little mental energy as possible on the media, which is understandable too. They usually go through their motions in press conferences, choosing to not say much. Like Duncan Fletcher did yesterday, after yet another failure of the batting line-up. R Ashwin, though, has said that all the talk of a possible whitewash, a repeat of what happened in England, is the "biggest detriment" for them.
After India conceded 366 runs on the second day for just one wicket, Ashwin was asked when and how he thought things might turn around. "Someone will have to stand up and ask themselves to be counted," Ashwin said. "It has to come from within. It's all fine when you sit together and give all those speeches. Those speeches are very good to watch on TV. It has to come from within. You have to deliver out there.
"It has happened before, and I know, I understand, where you are trying to get at. We lost 4-0 on an overseas tour before this. It really has to come from within. For all you know, people telling it's going to be another 4-0, another 2-0... For starters I don't know how it works with you guys. For us to just hear that repetitively, that itself is the biggest detriment for us. So I don't know. It has to come from someone. Maybe it will come from everyone in the next innings. Probably [Nos] 1 to 11 will get a fifty."
It was a slightly strange admission to make in the middle of a Test match. Ashwin was feistier when asked about the haste in going on to the defensive when in the field. "What else do you do with 190 in the pocket?" he asked back when the question was put forward. "You'll have to save every run possible. Supposing you get two or three wickets later on, and someone is having a good spell, we have those runs to play with later. That has got to be the only idea. It's common sense. Nothing else."
It was a fair call, in that there were only 191 runs to play with. India's batting has now gone past 300 only once in their last 17 away Test innings. Ashwin was left hoping the batting will come good in the second innings. "It's going to be a catch-up game from now on," Ashwin said. "We'll have to dig deep and bat long. One or two persons will have to stand up and really show how it is going to turn around from now on. If you need it to turn around, you need someone to stand up and make themselves counted."
Ashwin, who has been part of a pretty successful Indian ODI side, was asked if he didn't see the same kind in this beleaguered Test side. "It's easier to believe for 50 overs than for a lot of overs," he said. "Ninety [overs] into [times] five days. It's tougher to believe over that period of time. You will have to see everyone scale it up to then. Honestly nobody wants to come out and go down losing every time. Everybody wants to be there and do something.
"We haven't - the biggest thing is our catching has been quite good. Whatever has gone we have been picking up the catches so far. This is what the batsmen can contribute when they are standing on the field. Very frankly the wicket has flattened out today, and there was nothing on offer. People were going really hard today and bending their backs.
"As I said, you can't fault the efforts of the bowlers. They ran in hard. Ishant [Sharma] was clocking 140 in the final spell. That's all you can expect from the fast bowlers as of now."
About his own effort, Ashwin said, "I haven't landed anything short, I haven't delivered anything full. I haven't really bowled many bad balls. I have been bowling really well. The wicket column has to really reflect, [but] I am not someone who is going to read into that. Keep going on. There will be a spell where I can turn it around. Sure about that."
However, it is clear now that, for Ashwin to make a real impact, the batsmen will have to perform a miracle. "I am someone who is going to stay positive," Ashwin said. "If we can bat really well in the third innings and put something on the board on the final day, we will be good enough to work around and fight with that."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo