India’s batting in the third Test against West Indies might have failed to deliver but Ravichandran Ashwin continued to perform with the willow. The off-spinner, who scored a century in the first Test, once again starred with the bat and scored 75* to help his team reach 234 for 5 by the end of first day’s play. Speaking to the media, India’s batting coach praised Ashwin and talked on various topics ranging from pitch, India’s batting, team combination and much more.

Excerpts:

On the team’s batting:

See batting on the first day of the Test match is quite challenging, especially the first session. And we got to 87 in the first session and we would have ideally wanted to lose one wicketless but we thought that we handled the first session pretty well. Second session, yes definitely we would have liked to have a few more runs. We sort of couldn’t come out with enough solutions for the lines that the offspinner (Roston Chase) was bowling. He was bowling a defensive line taking six fielders on the on-side and also the ball getting softer and the state of the outfield. All these factors need to be looked into but at the end of it I thought it was a hard fought day one of Test match. And to come out of it and be in the position we are in I am satisfied with the way the batsmen applied themselves.

On the new team combination and new batting strategy:

The biggest advantage of this batting group is that they are willing to come out of their comfort zone and not just bat at one position. Whatever is asked of them they are willing to do and it is a very, very good trend to have of having a flexible line up. Someone like a Cheteshwar Pujara opened the innings in Sri Lanka and he got a hundred. And there have been numerous instances with Ajinkya Rahane being pushed at number three and then batting at number five as and when the team requires of him and it is a great thing to have that sort of flexibility. And the greater satisfaction is that you have a group of players who are willing to do that.

On the team’s decision to not include Murali Vijay in the playing eleven:

Vijay was available for selection and it was the management’s call to stick to Shikhar Dhawan because KL (Rahul) had a phenomenal game in the last match where he scored 150 and the team management felt that Shikhar had also done enough to keep his place in the team having scored a good 87 and then giving us the start in the first innings and negotiating the new ball in a partnership of 90 runs. So that was what went behind Murali Vijay not being able to break into the eleven here.

On Ashwin’s batting and his role with the off-spinner:

My role is not different from any other roles and I try to prepare them as well as possible. I try to keep them in a good head-space and make sure that they are as close to batting as their techniques allow them to. So that is a very small role that I play. And it is brilliant, it is just his third innings at No. 6 and he has never batted at six before the start of this series. So that’s an added plus for the team. Somebody we knew had a great potential with the bat but never did so at six, and having the knowledge that he is someone who started off as a top order batsman at the start of his career and contributed immensely for his state team as well. So it gives us options and already if you see the type of contribution the lower order is making it puts us in a confidence position whenever the team finds itself in a tight corner.

 

On the pitch:

I think it is quite a challenging Test wicket and not easy for the batsmen to straight away play their strokes. They will have to be very watchful and play the ball under their eye. It was seaming a bit and it was stopping a bit as well. It was a very challenging wicket for the first day for batting and it would ease out on days two and three. That’s what we assess because whatever moisture there was would have dried up and there would be better carry as match goes as opposed to what we saw on day one.

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