In just his 62nd innings, Indian off-spinner R Ashwin has picked 18 five-wicket hauls. Before the series against West Indies, the 29-year old had not a single five-wicket haul outside of Asia and now he has taken two in as many matches. The superb bowling display helped the visitors to dismiss the hosts for only 196. India finished the day in a very strong position as they ended the day on 125 for 1. Ashwin interacted with the media after the day’s play.

Excerpts:

 

On what helped him to get the wickets on a bouncy pitch:

A little bit of bounce and speed variation, that was important I thought. Most of the dismissals were brought about by difference in speeds rather than much of spin, actually. It was initially damp and there was some turn, but after that it flattened out a bit and started going straight. This ball, once it gets older, it becomes easier to bat. There’s a lot more time. I think it was more about bounce and speed variation that created the problem.

On whether there was a plan to bowl from closer to the umpire:

Not really. I have been bowling close to the stumps a lot. There have been occasions in the limited overs formats when you use the crease much more. Effectively, because of the breeze and the amount of drift I am getting, going in straighter lines helps a bit because the batsman starts coming out and follows the ball. That gives me a good chance to take caught and bowleds. That’s the whole idea, and also trying to get them to nick them off to slips.

On his 18th five-wicket haul:

Everybody wants to start playing cricket one day to achieve what nobody else could achieve. I am happy to be there, at some stage of my career where I am better than everybody else who has played the game. It feels nice, but the only thing that is constant is trying to improve from wherever you are. I think change is very, very important. This is good, but tomorrow is a different day and you have to keep improving.

On KL Rahul:

From what I think about Rahul, he’s a fine fine player. We all know that he’s a quality cricketer. He’s made a lot of runs in First-Class cricket. He has pretty much arrived at this level.

Beforehand, when he made hundreds for us, it has been crucial knocks. He made one in Sri Lanka which is very very memorable. As a matter of fact, the way he played in the IPL, it’s just an extension. Everybody wants Rahul to do well, which is a big tick for him.

I’ve nicknamed him batting machine. He keeps batting all the time and it’s not a surprise that he’s made runs and I’m very happy for him.

On West Indies batting:

I was pretty surprised that they won the toss and batted first today. Like Virat mentioned at the toss, there was a bit in it, it was a bit sticky. Maybe I would’ve batted as well. But with their strengths, I thought it was a bit surprising. They lost three wickets up front.

I was really taken aback by the counter attack that Blackwood did. It sort of put the game in the balance. And we had to break twice and brought the game back. It’s clearly a game where the experienced side is seizing the more opportune moments, I would put it that way. With a little bit of experience and nailing the right moments, the game could get closer.

This game has a lot of uncertainties. We just saw one when Sri Lanka pulled it off against Australia. And they did the same against us in Galle, so we can’t be lacklustre with that, we will have to keep doing our process properly.

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