India’s decision to play with only six specialist batsmen was well justified by R Ashwin’s superb batting display. The spinner promoted ahead of wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha, grabbed the opportunity with both the hands and slammed his third Test hundred to help India post an imposing total of 566 for 8 before the captain, Virat Kohli declared the first innings. Talking to the media after the day’s play, Ashwin talked about enjoying his batting, India’s strategy on the third day and much more.
Excerpts from the press conference:
On his good performance with the bat against West Indies:
That’s because I’ve got more time to bat against them. Whenever I’ve gone in, I’ve had a batsman to play with. All the times I made a hundred. Once, I had Rohit and I have Virat and again Virat. That’s an important factor for a batsman lower down to get a hundred. And obviously, this game I batted at (No.) six, so that gave me ample time to try and play it out.
Yes, I have got runs against West Indies, and if you start getting a liking towards a team, you have that inside factor which tells you that you can do it again.
On being promoted to number six:
Yeah, I’ve always wanted to bat in the top-seven for the Indian team, which is a long-time goal that I have to try to strive to get better at. I need to thank Anil Bhai and Virat for having the confidence in me to be pushed at number six. There have been times in the past when I’ve played really well, and haven’t really got the promotion.
This really says a whole lot of things about me. Virat called me in the morning and said ‘you’ll be batting at six, ahead of Saha’, which is a big boost to my batting confidence. I had worked on it over the past one month in Chennai with my coach and I’m very very happy with the way it’s come out. I’ve never left so many balls. Ajinkya told before the Test match about batting 200 balls, my aim was to bat 150 balls and try and see where I get.In between, I played an over from Gabriel which was a bit loose, and Virat came up to me and said that is what you need to avoid in Test cricket to be more successful. I really thought I left really well and knew where my off-stump was. It was about batting time more than runs for me this time.
On his preparation for batting:
First things first, Sanjay Bangar worked really closely with my stance for the last 12 months. It has been a challenge. I used to be extra side-on and I had to open myself a little bit. That change is very effective. I’ve not driven straight down the ground for a very long time. (So) that is a pretty evident one.The other things like my initial movement and other things had to be sorted. It was a process for like 10-12 months, and on the way, I did lose a few innings as a batsman as well.
On batting with Virat Kohli:
Earlier, I heard the West Indies coach also talking about how good a batting wicket this is. But there are certain shots that cannot be played on this wicket. It’s not a wicket where you walk in put your feet ‘plonk’ and just hit it. There is a good bounce in the wicket. And there are areas where the ball is coming at different paces as well.When I walked in started batting I felt like Virat was hitting a few shots that were almost impossible for me to connect. And that is the sheer brilliance of how Virat has been batting over the last year or so. He’s just playing a few shots which make the bowling look ridiculous. I should say those shots are out of ordinary shots.
On India’s strategy for the third day:
I think it’s pretty simple. It’s a good batting wicket.You’ll have to earn every wicket. You’ll have to get them out. Kraigg Brathwaite and the likes of Bravo, and they bat pretty deep as well, we’ll have to prize each and every wicket so and see if we can actually go the distance and maintain the intensity for every hour.