Australia in India 2016-17 February 17, 2017

Have to curb Smith, Warner's natural instincts - Ashwin

ESPNcricinfo staff
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Quick Facts - R Ashwin's stellar numbers in 2016-17

India offspinner R Ashwin believes stifling the attacking instincts of Australia's captain and vice-captain, Steven Smith and David Warner, will be the key to India's success in the four-Test series against Australia, which starts in Pune next week.

"I had some duels with Warner and the world knows they are great batsmen," Ashwin told the Times of India. "But as I said, the key to this series is how well we start off.

"More often than not, it's about wearing the opposition down and if you can start doing that from the beginning, it gets easier towards the end. I know that Smith and Warner will play in their free-spirited fashion and if we can curb their natural instinct, play to our strengths and make them play to the pace that we want them to play, we will do a fine job."

After the ICC had rated the Nagpur pitch for the India-South Africa Test poor [the game finished inside three days], India's home Tests over the last year-and-a-half have featured few surfaces that offer excess turn from the start with variable bounce. Ashwin said the nature of pitches was "not a big deal" for him, but felt the well-rolled pitches would help Australia's batsmen, many of whom have never played a Test in India.

"I think they will come prepared for what is in store. I was having a talk with (umpire) Kumar Dharmasena the other day on how differently they prepare pitches in Sri Lanka than they do it in India," Ashwin said. "He was saying that the Indian curators roll the pitches to an extent that they go completely dead, something that Sri Lankans don't. I think Sri Lanka produces some of the best wickets around the world while ours are slower in nature. But then, the Aussies will have to come to terms with the slowness of the Indian pitches, something that they are not used to."

Over the last year and a half, Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have become captain Virat Kohli's go-to strike force. Since the start of the West Indies tour in August 2016, they have accounted for 127 wickets out of a total of 222 wickets in 13 Tests. Ashwin felt Jadeja's unrelenting accuracy helped him get a little more creative at the other end.

R Ashwin has said that Ravindra Jadeja's accuracy allows him the liberty to experiment when bowling from the other end © Hindustan Times

"Jadeja is one who will not give anything away. That gives me the luxury to extend my imagination a lot more," he said. "There are pockets of the game when we don't get wickets and that is the time when I try to make things happen. During the Kanpur Test against New Zealand, Mitchell Santer and Luke Ronchi were going very well. Jadeja was bowling a tight line and I bowled a ball outside the leg-stump of Santner and got him to nick to gully on a slow pitch.

"Those are exactly my strengths and when I don't offer the same things over and over again, they try to do things to get the runs away and makes mistakes. So Jadeja and me, bowling the way we do, create opportunities for each other."

While Australia's pace attack, led by Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, has been talked up as the biggest threat confronting India, Ashwin felt Nathan Lyon and the rest of Australia's spinners could not be taken lightly.

"Nathan Lyon is a fine bowler. He got a seven-for in New Delhi in the last Test Australia played against India," he said. "He puts a lot of revs on the ball and we can't take anything for granted. Then they have Ashton Agar, Steven O' Keefe and they are no spring chickens and are pretty good bowlers and we have to play out of our skins. And don't forget, we are always playing that one batsman short all the time."

When Ashwin was asked if he was surprised at not being the vice-captain despite being a direct selection across formats, he said he led without a title by playing key roles in India's wins. "I have really crossed that stage, where I think I deserved this or being faced with decisions that is not in my hands," he told The Hindu. "I lead without a title. I end up playing a crucial part in most matches which India wins.

"If there are some parameters cricket adapts, a lot of things will be different around cricket. But unfortunately cricket is not as professional as it should be. I have got to the stage where I have realised, I am not here to change the whole thing, but if it is possible for me to change things, I will. As of now, I am at peace with myself.

"To be honest, I am not even sure if I want to be a vice-captain. I do a lot of hard work. So to try and think at what is not coming my way is way too demanding on my mind."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   cricfan87229641 on February 21, 2017, 17:58 GMT

    And Apart from my FOUR points shared earlier, one final point is 5) Finally,I don't understand Umesh Yadav selection at all,he is never amongst the WicketTakers,He never ever drew FIRST BLOOD, one or two odd wickets he takes is usually when most of the damage has been done and a formality is required.

  •   cricfan87229641 on February 21, 2017, 17:56 GMT

    1) 'Second test' is more crucial than the 'First One', who-ever wins the second test will most likely go on to win the series, It's a very carefully selected venue, Bangalore. 2) Denying Indian team a win in first test is as good as winning it for australia, first test is far more crucial for Australia than for India, A draw in first game will surely cause severe doubts in indian team mind, what the hell went wrong? 3) Parthiv Patel seems better choice over wridhiman saha.Jayant yadav seems a better choice as 3rd spinner,Jayant did not just held his own in a company of Ashwin & Jadeja, but he made crucial runs, including one century, Kohli accepted after series win, one of the key contributor in eng series win was contribution from lower order, it just kept coming, So Jayant selection makes a lot of sense. 4) Karun Nair over Rahane anyday for me, but aus bowling has better firepower than eng & probably thats why rahane picked.

  • Anojan16 on February 20, 2017, 1:21 GMT

    Nice article and Ashwin is being wise here! good one (y)

  •   Srinivas Kilambi on February 19, 2017, 23:35 GMT

    Australia might surprise India in a test or 2. I predict a 2-1 India or 2-2 draw. Indian batting revolves around Kohli and the opening partnership has NOT fired since ages. Starc is really good. India's chances will improve if they have a 3rd spinner and esp. if Kuldeep is used as a surprise weapon. Umesh and Ishant for general and Umesh and Bhuvi for green pitches is the way to go.

  • Sun05 on February 19, 2017, 18:09 GMT

    @Cricczar, it is clear that you have not understood what Ashwin was telling. Ash is one of those players who often gives good interviews.

  • cheguramana on February 19, 2017, 12:12 GMT

    Some mischievous questions wl always be there...why shud anybody bother if Ashwin is vice captain or not ? Hes doing a fine job for India and thats all that counts. Interesting to note that Ashwin is showing a lot more regard for Aus spinners than the India fans !! This is going to be one tough series !

  • Coolcapricorn on February 19, 2017, 8:04 GMT

    Have no doubts whatsoever that Kuldeep Yadav will be included somewhere in the series against the Aussies as our 'secret weapon'! This is because they will studied in depth the bowling of both Ashwin & Jadeja in preparing for this tour but may not seen nor have much video footage of Kuldeep bowling. Unless the wicket is known to assist our seamers or swing bowling like Eden Gardens in Kolkata, India are far better off in always choosing a third spinner in our teams rather than a third seamer when playing at home. They made this mistake in the last Test against BD but can't really afford to do so against a far better-ranked team.

  • BRADMANBESTEVER on February 19, 2017, 5:32 GMT

    So Warner and Smith are our 2 best bats and they need to be kept in check. Nothing to see here.

  • CricCzar on February 19, 2017, 5:19 GMT

    Ask Ashwin a simple question and he comes up with something obscure that doesnt really make too much sense, but appears grandiose all the same. His cricket has been awesome over the last two years. Cant say the same about his interviews.

  • Mervo on February 18, 2017, 23:56 GMT

    Ashwin is right. Australia has only 2 world class batsmen and they are really good ones as their long term averages show. Smith in particular will need to play a different game. Warner is himself and can adapt somewhat, but still remains dangerous as long as India's pace bowlers are at the crease.

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