England in India 2012-13

Important to share ideas with spin partner - Ashwin

Spin duo R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha in conversation with ESPNcricinfo

Abhishek Purohit

November 14, 2012

Comments: 37 | Text size: A | A

R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha have taken a staggering 73 wickets as a pair in their first five Tests together, at home against West Indies and New Zealand. With the focus being on spin as India's four-Test series against England begins in Ahmedabad on Thursday, ESPNcricinfo spoke to Ashwin and Ojha before the Indian team's preparatory camp in Mumbai on their developing partnership.

Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin shared 18 wickets between them, India v New Zealand, 1st Test, Hyderabad, 4th day, August 26, 2012
Pragyan Ojha on R Ashwin: "We have got that kind of rapport; if he thinks there are certain things I should do during a game [he comes up and tells me]" © Associated Press
Related Links
Players/Officials: Ravichandran Ashwin | Pragyan Ojha
Series/Tournaments: England tour of India
Teams: India

How has your partnership developed over the years? How much of a boost is it to have someone you know so well bowl from the other end?

Ojha: We have played a lot of junior cricket together. Right from the Under-16s we have been playing against each other and also for the same [South] zone. We are also from the same age group. It is easy to talk to each other and discuss things.

When you are planning something and it does not go your way, you talk to him as a partner. The past two series that we played in India, Ash was in top form and getting a lot of wickets. It made my job easier. We were complementing each other. Sometimes he used to take wickets and I used to not give easy runs and sometimes, he used to hold up [the scoring] a bit and I used to attack the batsmen. There is great understanding between us.

Ashwin: We played in Bangalore [against New Zealand] where the pitch was a little dead and we were looking to break through. We were toiling a bit when [James] Franklin and [Daniel] Flynn were playing. At that point, we were talking to each other about how to pin them down. Slower pace was not working, quicker through the air was also tough, and it was very good to bat on. Then we had a chat. He came and told me slower in the air might help. I was saying slower in the air is just sitting up on the track. These kinds of conversations that we have during games really help, which is not a big possibility if you are not of the same age group. Then it becomes that much more complex, it becomes more of guidance if it is a senior player. This kind of rapport exists between us. For one, you can be very sure that when one of you is running through, the other will stick it out and make it very tough for the batsman there. That's the amount of confidence we have in each other.

How do you decide who will attack and who will defend? How much of it is done on the field? How much prior planning goes into it?

Ashwin: It is not something you decide before a game. This game is a circle. Over periods of time, one person will have the knack of picking up wickets and the other one has to stand by and hold his guns, and his time will come. He just has to bide his time. It has happened already in our short stint with each other at the international level. First innings against West Indies [in Delhi] he picked up wickets, in the second innings, I did. Then in Mumbai, I took wickets in the first innings, he did it in the second. In a way, it is good between us that it has happened on and off. So it relaxes us much more. There has not been that much of a gap between us.

Ojha: It is basically about momentum. As a cricketer on the field, you can understand the situation. Like when he is getting wickets, I always tell myself that I should not be over-smart and should not try to show that I am also there and that I too can take wickets. If I do that, the runs will flow from both ends easily. It is more about being a street-smart bowler rather than just going out and trying to prove a point.

How often do you take each other's advice on the field?

Ojha: We have got that kind of rapport; if he thinks there are certain things I should do during a game [he comes up and tells me]. Sometimes a batsman is comfortable with certain lines and uncomfortable when you bowl in a particular area. Lots of times Ashwin comes up to me, as do the senior players. Ash and I try to make sure we stand at mid-off or mid-on when the other is bowling and discuss strategies and plan how to go about every session.

Ashwin: It is not about taking what advice one is giving. It is about throwing in your ideas. That idea might help, might not help. That is secondary. But it is very important that you put in your point of view so that it gives the other something to feed off. Because at the top of your mark, you might just forget what needs to be done. When somebody actually reminds you, it is a very big help under pressure.

How different do you think your bowling approaches are?

"I don't believe in taglines. I have said I don't believe in being a leader of the attack or in being spin twins or whatever you call it. When someone is not looking for taglines, I don't think he will be under pressure. We have played enough cricket. Yes, it is a big series. I am very excited. But there is absolutely no pressure on me." R Ashwin on the England Test series

Ashwin: We haven't picked each other's mind to find out how attacking or how defensive one is. We know for sure that we will complement each other. He definitely has an attacking component. I always look for wickets. I am very sure he does as well. If a bowler who does not look for wickets exists, it is very tough for him to pick up five-wicket hauls. He has also picked up a few five-wicket hauls. So it is very evident that he is also attacking.

He is someone who is very hard to get away for a right-hander. Ojha's consistency of keeping it there or thereabouts is his biggest strength. I look for that extra bit and try to throw one up more often what he does, to induce a bat-pad gap or an edge to short leg. But that is my nature. His nature is that he will stick to his guns. There will be days when I can go for 90-100 runs and pick up five wickets but you will hardly find Ojha mucking about that way and giving extra runs. Yes, everybody will bowl bad deliveries but he predominantly will be building up [the pressure] over a period of time and getting wickets.

Ojha: He has got a lot of variations. He's got the carom ball, the topspinner ... My strength is bowling consistently on one length. Right from a kid I have been doing that - varying my pace, using flight, pushing the ball through, and hitting the same area consistently. We don't change our core plan; we adapt to the situation.

Seventy-three wickets in your first five Tests together. That is an incredible number. When you go into a big series with such a record, isn't there pressure that 'now we are expected to take wickets as a partnership'?

Ashwin: This is probably the first time someone has given me the numbers. They are on a statistician's mind; they do not have to necessarily sit in our heads. We are going about doing our jobs. There is another important series coming up [against Australia]. We will just take it as it comes, rather than saying 'we have done so much and we will have to do so much more'. If you are going to look at it that way, it makes it that much more difficult as a professional cricketer.

I don't believe in taglines. I have said I don't believe in being a leader of the attack or in being spin twins or whatever you call it. When someone is not looking for taglines, I don't think he will be under pressure. We have played enough cricket. Yes, it is a big series. I am very excited. But there is absolutely no pressure on me. It is just another series. I have played so much cricket. Test cricket is definitely one [level] higher. I started playing from about eight years old. Till today I might have played about 1000-2000 matches. Yes, it is a Test match, it is a big team, and we would like to prove a point to them. But having said that, it is yet another game. Ten-twenty years from now, if I have to look back, I'll have to tell myself that yes, I played a Test match and I played it with the utmost freedom and utmost ability.

Do you feel you have established yourself in the India side?

Ashwin: I have not even thought about it. That is not even on the agenda. I am not someone who will say 'I have done this' and sit on my laurels. This is a very competitive sport. You have got to be very professional and stay completely grounded in order to keep growing and improving. If you are not grounded, you can rest on your laurels and before you know it, you might actually be in a situation where you are under pressure. I would always like to be one up on the game. I am not trying to say I will always be successful. I would rather be someone who has tried, given it everything and then said, 'Okay, it has been worthless, let's look at something else'. Rather than sitting back and saying, 'Oh my god, I have to work [harder] now'.

Ojha: My childhood coach always says, 'You should never take your place for granted'. Yes, I have had a couple of good series in India but there is always scope for improvement and there is a long way to go. I really want to follow in the footsteps of Anil bhai [Kumble], the way he was leading the pack and contributed so much to Indian cricket ... That is how I want to build my career. This is just the beginning, that is what I would like to say. And I will never take my place for granted.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 15:42 GMT)

Some ferocious behavior- What's wrong with England players? Some of the appeals were simply ridiculous. Ball pitches foot outside off and hit the bat and that even outside the off too and Broad goes all nut about it and even questions Umpires for not agreeing with him. Jimmy and Swan along with Prior and other right behind him. They just kept appealing on every little thing.

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 14:40 GMT)

@ Mukesh Joshi Saraswat bhaji was dropped not only coz of england tour, he performed badly in India too. u r saying an ordinary ranji spinner can take wickets in india?? can u tell me what those ordinary spinners did in England's second and third worm up game??

Posted by ssenthil on (November 16, 2012, 14:22 GMT)

@Hammond, Here is a stat.

India's total of 521 is their tenth 500-plus total against England overall and their fourth against England in home Tests. The previous 500-plus total at home came in Mumbai in 1993.

So now you can use your brain and find out that India score more then 500 against England in England (6 times) then they did in India. Go figure what's wrong with the pitches

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 14:09 GMT)

I really don't get why sum people even pick this harbhajan topic in between..we all are well aware of the credentials he has got as an off spin bowling talent but at the end of the day its the team and not indivisuals, and if we look at harbhajan's recent career, i mean over the past few years, he hasnt been able to deliver upto expectations where as ashwin has. So if there is gotta be one berth available, it has to go tot the best out there, and considering the present form, ashwin is gonna grab it without any doubts what so ever.

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 14:07 GMT)

Thanks a lot for this article! My respect for Ashwin and Ojha has increased a lot.. Its a refreshing change Indian Cricket needs.. Harbajan, Rohit and few others needs to learn from these guys! What ever they said seems to have come from their heart.. Really incredible! I'm sure Ashwin, Ojha, Pujara, Rahane and other youngsters will take us to a better level all..

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 13:18 GMT)

As much as India has dominated the first two days of the Game, was a bit disappointed with batsmen Running Between the wickets. We lost out on atleast 15-20 runs as a result. The sad thing is that since we dominate so much in India, everyone forgets the basics of the game!! Hope some of our cricinfo fans has identified this weakness in our team's batting.

Posted by maddy20 on (November 16, 2012, 12:51 GMT)

Yeah same goes for your mighty OZ , who have not won a test here in 8 years. Thats right 0 test wins in 8 years. We pushed you to the limits in 2007 in Aus and won the CB series. When was the last time England or Aus challenged India in India. We drew in England in 2002, won in 2007, drew vs SA in SA and in India(Aus lost SA at home remember) 2011 has been a bad year after two and half years at the top and its bound to happen when two of our greats were at the end of their fabulous careers. When the Aus come to India in Feb, they will be like ducks in a shooting range! Fast track bullies Ponting(who averages 21 in India) and Co, will have a fabulous end to his career with 3 or more ducks in 8 overs. Perhaps they should stick to tormenting visiting teams and refrain from touring India to keep their No.1 ranking(if they miraculously beat SA in the current series). As for England 40 whitewash with atleast 3 innings defeats on the cards!

Posted by Hammond on (November 16, 2012, 12:29 GMT)

Basically I won't be watching (or commentating) because it's a joke. And the death of test cricket. England have won as many test series in Australia as India have won test matches. And Australian conditions are as different as Indian conditions compared to English test wickets. My point is this. If all pitches were like Indian test pitches, test cricket would be dead worldwide. It seriously is as sad as it is comic. When there is no balance between bat and ball, cricket dies. I'm no longer commentating on this series, all Indian fans congratulate each other on beating teams from overseas not on talent, but on conditions. Huzzah to you.

Posted by gsingh7 on (November 16, 2012, 12:27 GMT)

@hammond-- lad, u can go away and watch the headlines in dailymail tommorrow to see by how much u lost to india,

Posted by Rooboy on (November 16, 2012, 12:09 GMT)

Hammond says 'boring and sad'. If he'd added 'predictable' he'd have summed his own comments up perfectly. And if that's his attitude why did he even bother watching in the first place? It's england in India, surely he didn't expect england to be competitive? It's ok hammond, you can always pretend to be an Indian fan

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 12:02 GMT)

subcontinent heroes..... LOL

Posted by ankit_barry on (November 16, 2012, 11:57 GMT)

@muski: "Sir Ravindra Jadeja", i love it, u know i always read the comments first in an unbiased manner, it gives me a flavor of how the article or a news report is.

Posted by path_finder_13 on (November 16, 2012, 11:52 GMT)

england with their main seaming track sillies anderson and broad who are good for nothing if they do not get help from the pitch can not do anything...and they call themself the best attack ever.....for inspiration look at styen who performed so well on so called flat indian tracks....

Posted by AsitDe on (November 16, 2012, 11:50 GMT)

As a response to Hammond's comment, let me request Hammond to look at the test matches both in India and in England played between these countries for the last ten years and compare the performances of the two teams. One soon discovers that series-wise India have done a lot better playing in England than England playing in India. There are different conditions all around the world. How many times have you heard an Indian complain about the conditions given to the Indian team in England, especially the conditions during the last test series in 2011 in England. The less about it is the better.

Posted by Romenevans on (November 16, 2012, 11:46 GMT)

@ Hammond - Unplugged your computer and TV and go away...LOL if you're not interested then why comment here? The fact is, you and your team have already surrendered. LOL! Go home dude!

Posted by path_finder_13 on (November 16, 2012, 11:46 GMT)

@Hammond OK nobody is asking u to watch the match...u can read about the abject performence of ur team in papers.......

Posted by VijaySh on (November 16, 2012, 11:42 GMT)

@Hammond I am glad you realize England can't play in India. By the way, it will be 4-0 not 3-0. And sorry India couldn't be heroes in the English lunchboxes. You should listen to Boycott - he was complaining about flat English pitches which are too perfect and manicured and protected. So much for Indian pitches being flat and Indian batsmen being "flat-track bullies". Get out of this small-mindedness of rejecting anything different as being inferior...

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 11:32 GMT)

@Hammond : Yes whenever it stops seaming or swinging, it becomes boring isn't it mate? Ironically this are the moments when your cupboard looks bare. Afraid to accept it hurts to see your team struggling and getting beaten?

Posted by moBlue on (November 16, 2012, 11:30 GMT)

73 in 5 tests?!? really?!? holy cow!!! *that* is incredible to me! i guess these two have my grudging respect now...

i was a huge bhajji fan early in his career. i'd still back bhajji if he find his self-confidence because he is that kind of bowler. i notice people rag on bhajji, but when he is feeling it - especially when he gets an early wicket in his spell - there is no more talented off-spinner in IND. period. so... i hope he is able to believe in his magical powers once again... i mean, when hayden was going berserk, as was gilchrist [meaning kolkata, bombay and chennai in 2001 were not "dust bowls"] and AUS managed to beat IND by an innings in bombay, yet bhajji got a ridiculous number of wickets [28 or something in 3 tests!!!] and made ponting his bunny!!! you don't do that without being supremely talented!!!

that being said, i am happy with ashwin and ojha so far. ENG is always abject against spin in IND but i'll be curious to see how oz handles them in IND.

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 11:26 GMT)

@Hammond - When you can't play always come up with excuses. If you take pride on 4-0 against in india in england, you should be brave to accept when you lose against India in India. Nobody stopped English batsmen to learn how to play spin. If you can't play accept you can't play. You have Swan and you should have asked him to bowl to all the batsmen and learn how to play before the this series.

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 11:23 GMT)

politics otherwise i don't know why harbhajan was not in the eleven. in india even an ordinary spinner of ranji team can perform good against england . harbhajan was dropped because of his england tour and what ashwin did in australia ,we all know

Posted by Hammond on (November 16, 2012, 10:58 GMT)

No point in this test series. England playing for a draw at the end of the second day of the first test with spinners at both ends. Let India be happy with a 3-0 win on pitches that England can't play on. Let them be heroes in their own lunch boxes. I'm not watching anymore. Boring and sad.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 13:51 GMT)

Would be great if they pick somewhere close to the same numbers overseas as well..

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 13:12 GMT)

@ Unmesh_cric better than the 'legend' Dhoni itself LOl

Posted by muski on (November 15, 2012, 12:57 GMT)

The interviewer and Interviewees have convienently not spoken about the Sardar who is trying to get a peek back in. Its also good to see that MSD has not blindly supported Bhajji like he has done for RP Singh or Sir Ravindra Jadeja over the years.As long as these blokes bowl well in Tandem, they will keep the maverick Sardar at bay.@US Indian- Dont you think the Indian Indians dont know that they will perish if they dont perform. This is the typically sermon from the Western world to the so called Uncivilized world of ours.

Posted by Thyagu5432 on (November 15, 2012, 11:56 GMT)

Essentially, both of them want to make sure Bajji is no where in the picture. They are anyway doing it through their bowling, now they are also doing it through their talking.

Posted by Sakthiivel on (November 15, 2012, 10:24 GMT)

@ Unmesh_cric : Good stat bro..

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 6:07 GMT)

Good Spinners but they need to prove themselves out of India as well. Every team is a LION at home, when you play abroad that is when you are tested. This time it is England's test to prove themselves

Posted by IndCricFan2013 on (November 14, 2012, 22:45 GMT)

If all they are telling is true, I could believe it is true, then they are the true sportsmen of the modern era. All they need is the backing of the selectors for length of time. Hopefully they can come good at foreign soil too, that is when we can call them better than Ajmal or Suni Narine or any current active spinners. They need to believe and strive to get to that level. Then, for them to become Kumble, Warne or Murali, maintaining that for a longer period and it is too early to think about. But the process has started.

Posted by US_Indian on (November 14, 2012, 21:53 GMT)

Perform, prove or perish should be the mantra for everyone in India be it politics, office employees, sportsmen or government employees, students - no compromise at all period.

If the individuals are not performing and not even trying hard then it spells a disaster for the team and the public, then management should have the spine to kick them out (albeit temporarily or permanently until they perform) who ever it is no individual is bigger than the game and the nations pride be it Sachin or Sehwag or Gambhir or ZAK or Dhoni or Bhajji.

Posted by Darshi007 on (November 14, 2012, 19:47 GMT)

Their trust and confidence in each other's ability is amazing to hear. Indian batting is raw and a bit untested, fast bowling resources are thin, but spin bowling is certainly in the good hands of these 2. If they are managing to keep someone who has taken 400 test wickets out of the XI (doesn't matter if Bhajji is not in form) these guys have got it in them to set a great spin partnership for the future.

Posted by sweetspot on (November 14, 2012, 19:16 GMT)

Two smart young cricketers with a healthy view of life. Just great to see them complimenting each other so well, and thinking all the time. 73 wickets in 5 games is a ridiculously good haul, no matter what the conditions were. That's 73% of the maximum wickets possible!

Even if Bhajji makes a comeback, I think these two will play the main combination role in the years to come for India. They have Yuvi for company now? Great! Can't wait for the next 9 hours to pass.

Posted by   on (November 14, 2012, 19:05 GMT)

Who ever it may be but not Harbhajan. He is not even fit to be a part of playing XI. Ojha and Ashwin are the best and Yuvraj also can bowl.

Posted by ssenthil on (November 14, 2012, 18:57 GMT)

I truly believe Ashwin and P Ojha will write their name in the history book as one of the best spin fair ever. Both have their age on their side, both complement each other and both seems to be gelling well. More importantly both started very brightly since they are together despite they have thrashed the minnows at home, now they have another minnow England came to stabilize this fair more!!! All the best Ashwin and Ojha. They will take at least 60 out of 80 wickets between them and another 10 for Yuvi.

Posted by Unmesh_cric on (November 14, 2012, 18:08 GMT)

I just noticed that Ashwin's batting average in Tests is close to 39! That's much better than Raina's batting average (28).

Posted by usernames on (November 14, 2012, 18:08 GMT)

"I am not someone who will say 'I have done this' and sit on my laurels" -- Sly, Ashwin, Sly. Love the attitude though. Ojha is excellent as well.

Posted by xylo on (November 14, 2012, 17:35 GMT)

I am not someone who will say 'I have done this' and sit on my laurels. - Unfortunately, Gambhir, Sehwag, and Sachin are doing exactly this and hurting the team.

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