Ashwin: 'I’m constantly setting benchmarks I have created for myself'

The offspinner relishes the “game-time” in the middle, after a fruitful outing with bat and ball on Tuesday.

R. Ashwin's half-century went in vain as India A lost to India B by 43 runs in the opening encounter of the Deodhar Trophy.   -  SANDEEP SAXENA

R. Ashwin had a big presence in both halves of the Deodhar Trophy contest between India A and India B at the Ferozeshah Kotla here.

With the ball, he tested the batsmen, and with the bat, held one end in a hard-working 123-run partnership to keep his team (India A) in the contest after the top order faltered.

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The rearguard effort with Dinesh Karthik proved to be inadequate eventually, but a victory was in sight. Nudging the balls into gaps weren’t going to be enough in the business end of the contest, however, and Ashwin tried to shift the gears in the 43rd over when 52 were needed for victory.

He stepped out to legspinner Mayank Markande, the ball gripped and turned and the wicketkeeper effected a straightforward stumping. The rest of the innings went off the rails from there on.

India A vs India B: Key highlights

“We came really close but the ball got really scuffed up and it actually started ragging towards the end. Even the quicker ball started to spin. I think it was more the state of the ball rather than the pitch itself; it got scuffed up.

"We had to get a few boundaries; in that claim, I got out. We knew it was going to be tough for the new batsman to come through, and the spinners had five-six overs, and we had to take a chance. Maybe, on the flipside, I could have batted another couple of more overs before [attempting a big hit],” he said after the contest.

With the ball, Ashwin was enterprising. Bowling with an action with which he used to release his legspinners before, he troubled the batsmen with grip, turn, variations and his angles. Sometimes he would bowl from wide of the crease, and occasionally, he would throw in the legspinners.

One such delivery nearly dismissed Hanuma Vihari in the 24th over. The batsman had little idea that the ball would turn the other way; he nearly edged behind.

In the same over, Manoj Tiwary had also survived a nervous moment; he had come down the track and checked his slog at the last moment to avoid being caught by the long-on fielder, who collected the ball after it had bounced.

Ashwin admitted he was releasing his stock delivery – the offspinner – from a lower trajectory, and that did test the batsmen.

He is not bothered about “the wall that I hit all along” – the constant scrutiny among naysayers. He admitted all he could do is take wickets.

An impediment to this process could be the sudden transition from domestic cricket to a tour of Australia. Ashwin, however, put it all down to gaining “rhythm” rather than harp on technical shortcomings in the lead-up.

“For a bowler, it’s not quite about the ball or necessarily the conditions. It’s about trying to adapt and understanding the pace of the wicket and what that wicket requires, sometimes we can go on and off because of that particular bit.

"Even if you’re going to bowl 20-25 days earlier, you still have to understand that Australia plays its lifetime in Australia, so they are going to have a bit of an edge in terms of conditions. All we can do is try and learn from the past, and try and be that bit better than the last time,” he said.