'We nailed it in Hyderabad' - Ashwin
A few tweaks to his bowling technique after a poor home series against England have helped R Ashwin recover his form, he said after India won the fourth Test against Australia in Delhi.
Ashwin finished as the highest wicket-taker in the series with 29 scalps, at 20.10 - a turnaround from his performance during the England Tests, when he finished with 14 wickets at 52.64.
"Actually, my delivery stride was too long and it got worse during the Test series against England," he said. "I had to sit back and work on the videos and I was lucky to have a coach (Sunil Subramaniam) who identified the problem pretty quickly. Credit also goes to Duncan Fletcher and Joe Dawes. I needed a kick on my backside and they gave me one."
This was the first series that India won with a margin of 4-0 and Ashwin believes the critical moment of the series came in Hyderabad, where India thumped Australia by an innings and 135 runs. "Dhoni's double hundred (in Chennai) gave us the perfect start to the series, but we nailed it in Hyderabad," he said. "It was one-sided and we did it in an innings."
Ashwin was happy with his performance during the Delhi Test and said that he enjoyed bowling on a wicket that was "as tricky for the bowlers as it was for the batsmen". He also praised Cheteshwar Pujara for his unbeaten 82 that was central to the Indian chase on the third day.
"You didn't know which ball was going to bounce and turn and which one was going to scoot along the surface. You had to try and make sure you increased your pace so that the batsman didn't have time to adjust. It was easier on the third day, compared to the previous evening. Having said that, the chase was tricky and I think Pujara deserves a lot of credit for what he did today, in spite of batting with a fractured finger."
He also stressed the value of Ravindra Jadeja's bowling in the context of the game. "He (Jadeja) definitely knows what he's doing and he's pretty consistent. He's caused a lot of trouble to the frontline Australian batsmen and I think he deserved the Man-of-the-Match award he got today. It was a fantastic second spell that he bowled today."
Ashwin, who plays for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, said he was keen to carry this momentum into the Twenty20 tournament and later into the Champions Trophy. "Cricket is a game where you can take form into any format," he said. "Any kind of rhythm or momentum helps. For instance, when we went into the last IPL, we had lost a lot of games in Australia and we were being put down. The last IPL was probably one of the toughest that I played. This year, the momentum is going to take us forward into the IPL and later on into the Champions Trophy. Hopefully, everyone can stay mentally and physically fresh."