Ashwin ready to face challenges on Caribbean tour

Sankha Ghosh / 14 July 2016
Ashwin poses for a selfie with Amit Mishra.

Wickets in this part of the world are a bit different and R Ashwin believes the slow nature of the tracks in the Caribbean will throw a tough challenge for the spinners but insisted he is gearing up to bowl all day during the four-match Test series against West Indies.

He didn’t play in the first warm-up game against WICB Presidents XI but is most likely to return to the field in the final three-day practice match starting on Thursday.

“I am looking forward to the game (tomorrow). It will be challenging with the kind of heat and the wicket that are there. Watching the last game, I felt that the wickets were pretty slow. It was a bit of a challenge. I am sure I will have a long haul. I may have to bowl boring lines, chugging away all day long,” Ashwin told today.

Ashwin is well aware that patience holds key as partnerships are bound to happen on this kind of tracks.

“It will be the first breakthrough that will be important and results will then come faster. The West Indies team looks a pretty good side with a lot of all-rounders. Even during the last match, we saw Mishy (Amit Mishra) bowling 15-16 overs before getting the first wicket and then went on to get a few more. The bounce is not there, so boring lines need to be bowled.”

On being given the responsibility to lead the pack, Ashwin says “pressure is something that I play for”.

“I take pride in being the leader of the pack. There are a lot of challenges and advantages. The team will look towards me to deliver and with that comes pressure. I have always maintained that pressure is something that I play for,” he added.

The veteran spinner, who claimed 176 wickets in 32 Tests, happens to be captain Virat Kohli’s go-to man in Test cricket.

Ashwin didn’t enjoy that much success in limited overs in recent past; even MS Dhoni didn’t give him the bowl him as he used to do, both in ICC World Twenty20 and IPL.

The West Indies tour looks to be the perfect platform for the spinner to bounce back to silence his critics.

In his last Test, against South Africa last year, Ashwin scalped seven wickets which included a five-for in the second innings. India won the match by 337 runs.

The presence of former leg-spinner Anil Kumble as head coach will be a huge boost for Ashwin.

With the West Indies tracks providing a bite for spinners in the recently concluded tri-series involving the hosts, Australia and South Africa, Ashwin would be key to India’s chances during the Test series.