Ashwin: We're prepared for the long haul

Ahead of India's second tour game in the Caribbean, offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin roughly outlined his spin unit's strategy in the four Tests against West Indies in a series beginning in Antigua next week.

Ashwin..."It’s all about patience, we have to keep plugging away."   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has termed the wickets in the Caribbean ‘really slow’ and has suggested that the aim of India’s bowling unit against West Indies will be to be on top in the battle of patience. The Indians will play their second tour game against WICB President’s XI on Thursday, ahead of the first Test beginning in a week’s time in Antigua.

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“I’m sure [the tour] is going to be challenging, because of the kind of wickets and the heat. The way we quickly adapt to these conditions will be very important. From whatever I saw in the last game, the wickets were pretty slow. It looks like it is going to be slow [in the Tests as well]. I’m sure I’ll have to be prepared for a long haul and try and be as boring as possible in terms of trying to plug away all day long. We just have to wait for that one breakthrough,” Ashwin told reporters at St. Kitts.

Ashwin envisages a role of discipline and perseverance by India’s spin trio of Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra and himself, for the Tests. “[The wickets] are getting slower, but by no stretch of imagination is it going to be easy work. We’re all prepared for the long haul and if the wickets are going to be tailor-made for us, if it starts spinning, then we come into our own. But until then it’s all about patience, we have to keep plugging away.

'Boring lines and lengths'

“Especially in the first couple of days or even three days of the Test match, there’s not going to be a lot in it for the spinners. There might be a little bit of bounce or a little bit of slowness in the wicket that you can exploit, but it’s got to be [a strategy of] pretty boring lines and lengths and [we have to] keep teasing [the batsmen] with flight.”

The tour is former leg-spinner Anil Kumble’s first assignment as India’s head coach. Ashwin had good impression of what he has seen of Kumble up close.

“There is a saying that if you get too close to a celebrity, you’re going to be disappointed. But with respect to Anil bhai, whatever I thought or whatever I measured of him from the distance has actually come true. It is the same man, there is the same kind of discipline, same intensity and it’s been fabulous [working under him]. He’s brought in a lot of energy, a lot of meticulousness among the group.”

READ: >Ashwin: Kumble understands the bowler’s psyche

Kumble’s assignment of a Test series win in the Caribbean will not be particularly straightforward as India has not played a Test match since the series against South Africa in 2015-16. “We have not played a Test match for a long time, and so in terms of trying to go for longer periods of time with the ball, bowl longest spells and build [with] those boring lines for a longer period time, there are some boxes that need to be ticked. Probably this [upcoming tour game] will give me a better idea. Getting into Antigua, I might be in a better position [to execute my plans in the Tests].

“It looks like a good West Indies line-up [for the Antigua Test]. It looks like they have gone with a lot of all-round players who can bat and bowl. That’s pretty interesting; we’ll have to see the kind of strategies they adapt for the rest of the Test series. I’m sure we can break the back [of West Indies’ batting], we have got a good bowling attack.”

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