West Indies v India, 1st Test, Antigua, 4th day July 25, 2016

'I always value myself as an allrounder' - Ashwin

ESPNcricinfo staff
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Batting at No.6 was a complete surprise - Ashwin

India offspinner R Ashwin, who batted at No. 6 for the first time in his Test career, has said that he was surprised by the promotion in Antigua, where he made his third Test century and his first away from home.

"Batting at No. 6 was a complete surprise for me," Ashwin told bcci.tv. "Virat [Kohli] told me in the morning of the game that I would be batting at six, and I really liked what he said. He said: 'We trust you, and we want you to bat at six and see how it goes'. I wanted to give something back to the team, and show that I was good batting at No.6."

Having arrived late on the first day at 236 for 4, Ashwin saw out a tricky phase with Kohli and took India to 302 for 4 at stumps.

Ashwin then unfurled his array of strokes on the second day, the highlight being a straight back-foot punch off West Indies captain Jason Holder. But when Shannon Gabriel, West Indies' best bowler in the game, posed questions outside off stump with away movement or the lack of it, Ashwin was prepared to grind him down. He pressed on to bring up a century off 237 balls with a whipped four, before holing out for 113 off 253 balls.

"I wanted to lend some solidity," Ashwin said. "It was quite a tiring innings because I played about 250 balls, and after that to come out and exhibit how I could bowl after a tired innings. I was very pleased with that."

Given Kohli's penchant for playing with five bowlers, there was pressure on Ashwin and the lower order to contribute more with the bat. Ashwin had said after his century that batting in the top seven was a long-term goal and that he considered himself an allrounder.

"I always value myself as an allrounder," he said. "Not like I don't look at myself that way. Batting at six, there is always that many opportunities to score a hundred than when you are batting at eight. So, I have started off well on that note. Batting at No.6, I have managed a five-for as well. I just hope I can go from strength to strength from here."

Ashwin was pleased with his first five-wicket haul outside Asia, having made his debut against West Indies in 2011. He finished with figures of 7 for 83 to seal India's innings-and-92-run win inside four days.

"It has taken more than five years for me to repeat it [take a five-for] outside the subcontinent," he said. "That is something I wanted to break: getting a five-wicket haul away from Asia. That is something I worked earnestly towards and very pleased for myself."

Ashwin's returns came after he had gone wicketless in the first innings while conceding 43 runs in 17 overs. He said that his role in the first innings was to largely support the fast bowlers, who found swing and then reverse swing to rattle the hosts.

"In the first innings, I couldn't get a good spell going because the fast bowlers were bowling really well," he said. "We actually had to short change with them for roles and try to give them a break."

Ashwin revelled in a more attacking role in the second innings, profiting from subtle changes in pace and drift. His dismissal of Marlon Samuels, drifting one away past the outside edge to hit the top of off stump, was reward for using the breeze after setting the batsman up with a couple of offbreaks.

"The speeds were something that was going to challenge us on this wicket, because the ball got softer," Ashwin said. "As the ball got softer and softer, it was very hard to get the ball going. It was very slow and sluggish, and so we needed to keep a tab on the pace, and use the drift pretty well."

Ashwin also lauded coach Anil Kumble for his inputs during the course of the match. "In the second innings, I was constantly in touch with Anil bhai also about what is that right speeds to be bowling," Ashwin said. "We were constantly in touch through different occasions of the game. I went wicketless for the first 25-26 overs I bowled in the match, and in the past it would have definitely troubled me. I am someone who likes to keep getting wickets. I kept on speaking to him about what I was doing right and what I was not doing right. He felt my body was not going through well yesterday because I was a little tired. Also, he told I had to slow down at the crease, gave me different ideas about what lines to bowl to batsmen."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rajuramki on July 27, 2016, 6:16 GMT

    Very few batsmen in the world can match the deeds of Laxman , batting at No : 6 . While Ashwin is no muck with the bat , we should not expect him to succeed all the time . He has the talent as a batsmen , the tenacity and the willingness to improve . These qualities backed by the captain , will help Ashwin do better as a batsman too . Of course , it is a big challenge for anyone to be the work horse , the main wicket taker and also do well as a no : 6 batsman . However , the added responsibility will bring the better part of Ashwin , who will do well as an allrounder .

  • AviAvneet on July 27, 2016, 4:08 GMT

    under kohli, ashwin has got back his lost confidence and is prospering as an useful bat at no 6. at the moment no player other than ashwin fits in the team as an allrounder.

  • DrNilswapK on July 26, 2016, 9:23 GMT

    Ashwin coming good with the bat is great news not just for team India but also for the likes of Amit Mishra/ Umesh Yadav and bad one for Jadeja/Binni.

  • Coolcapricorn on July 26, 2016, 8:11 GMT

    Ashwin may consider himself an all rounder but he has yet to score runs consistently against quality opposition bowlers, particularly outside the subcontinent in places like Australia or England. However even with Ashwin in the team & the fact that VK wants to play with five front line bowlers, it doesn't hide the undisputable fact that the team desperately needs a genuine seam-bowling all rounder at the soonest. If we don't, we will have a long tail with not much depth in our batting & will struggle a bit when facing quality opposition outside the subcontinent.

  • SRIRAM_Gangulian on July 26, 2016, 2:53 GMT

    Ashwin has now proved multiple times that he has the temperament and talent of a batsman. Now it is up to the captain and the management to use the allrounder without affecting his main skill. No.6 is a far tougher position to bat on than number 5. No.6 batsmen are more prone to play during the last 20 overs of the day, face the new ball, operate rescue missions or play faster with the tail at the other end. It would be too much of Ashwin to do these things which world class batsmen like Laxman, Flintoff, recently Stokes, for India Rahane have been doing. Also No.6 is more likely tire Ashwin the bowler. So lets use the talented Ashwin at No.5 where there is more freedom and yet responsibility and let Rahane do the dirty work. Rahane is the No.6 India need and deserve.

  • Sahil Raut on July 26, 2016, 1:26 GMT

    Indian batsmen like Dhawan will find it difficult against Australia and South Africa. But as far as Kohli, Ashwin are concerned, they did a fantastic job.

  • Jose...P on July 26, 2016, 0:31 GMT

    Good News & Bad News:

    *

    Good one first:

    It is not enough for ANY player to have talents, but recognition of the same by his caption, in terms of action (not just in words), sets a virtuous cycle in motion; as Ashwin proves. And, it's good for both the player and the team.

    *

    Now, the bad part;

    Indian batting line up had been in "sixes & sevens" when it comes to #6 and #7, for a while. And, Dhoni had been quite open in expressing that fear. Unless we find a more permanent solution, we are likely to be exposed to more potent attacks, and more so on pacer/ seamer friendly tracks.

    Ashwin is going to be not only a wicket-taker but also be the workhorse, in our bowling lineup, for some more years to come. So, we can't always expect him to have a long innings with the bat, just before or just after a long run with the ball. We will be running that valuable player down to earth far more faster than his normal playing span.

  • Sampan on July 25, 2016, 22:00 GMT

    @cricfan1217.. I respectufully disagree with your comments on ash.. He is fairly yechnically correct batsman and has a descent record against aus and eng in their coubtry... The other guy who could do well is B kumar... I think the managemnet should back them and hopefulky with more timr and reponsibikity they would do well!

  • indianzen on July 25, 2016, 21:09 GMT

    Whataplaaya... He has silenced his critics with a peach of a performance... With current team and fitness we can beat australia in australia, england and SA...

  • MAD_ABOUT_CRICKET_INDIANFAN on July 25, 2016, 17:13 GMT

    Aaryandas : I agreed with all your points and ur self-answer the thing why there so many detractors i.e because we have found a bowling all rounder and playing him as a batting all-rounder .Fans are not doubting Ashwin ability but our concern is that he can play the role of a batting all-rounder . Our batting looks too thin as Ashwin batting at no 6 .Any good bowling unit will expose this weakness .It might work against weak bowling attack like WI but against England and Aus in their home conditions respectively it won't work .We want to permanent fix the problem not temporary .

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