Ashwin: "It’s not in my hands to take decisions"

R. Ashwin was omitted from the side that played the last three ODIs of the VB Series. On Tuesday, he was restored to the line-up, coincidentally in Adelaide, where he played an important role in fashioning India’s win in the first T20.

R. Ashwin starred in India's win in the first T20 against Australia.   -  R. V. Moorthy

At the start of the last Australian summer, R. Ashwin was dropped, rather surprisingly, for the first Test in Adelaide. A year on, he returned to Australia as the world’s top-ranked Test bowler, having destroyed South Africa back home. However, a combination of factors — his own performance, the struggles of other bowlers, and the need to find a balanced XI — meant he was omitted from the side that played the last three ODIs of the VB Series. On Tuesday, he was restored to the line-up, coincidentally in Adelaide, where he played an important role in fashioning India’s win in the first T20.

“It’s not in my hands to take decisions,” he said here on Thursday. “If I’m not playing, I’m not playing. But if I need to continue playing, I need to keep improving. Since I was not playing, I went and practised harder, and when the chance came I wanted to do better. The reason I didn’t play was that I didn’t win a game for India. If I had won, I would have played, as simple as that.”

Ashwin admitted he had ‘miscalculated’ at the start of the ODI series. “I came in with a lot of confidence in Perth. I was confident of beating the batsmen in flight. What happens is sometimes you just miscalculate. The straight boundaries were pretty short, so there is a very fine line between trying and being smart and trying and being a little foolish. They took me on, which I was happy with because I thought I could get them out. I did end up getting a couple of wickets in the second spell as well,” he said.

“In Brisbane, it was a little more calculated because we wanted to restrict them as much as possible and it had to be a defensive role. But honestly, I think it happens only with bowlers. Unless we concede runs, you guys don’t get entertained! The fact that I went for 70 (68) runs and then went for 60 runs — I had to sit out. And it’s fair enough because you have to play the right combination.”

At the Adelaide Oval, Ashwin went for 17 runs from his first over but finished with figures of two for 28 from four overs. “In the first over as well, Aaron Finch mistimed two or three balls and could have been out anywhere else,” he said. “Because there was a big straight outfield, it didn’t carry to the fielder. So there wasn’t anything wrong with the way I bowled, it’s just that I went for runs. Throughout the ODI series, be it Nathan Lyon or Kane Richardson, they have gone for 70 runs or more than that.”

Australia has spoken of their batsmen having the licence to try and hit spinners for six with the turn (right-handers against off-spinners, etc.). When this was put to Ashwin, his response was less than cheerful. “I didn’t know they had a licence,” he said. “But if they have a licence, I have a licence to pick up wickets too. And it’s not like their off-spinner has gone very kindly, he’s gone for 80 runs in all the games, that’s the way the series is. It’s not about an off-spinner, I think everybody has gone for runs.”

He had been watching the Big Bash League to look for methods of success in Australia, Ashwin revealed. “In India, a single is as good as a dot ball, but here a two is as good as a dot ball. Because what happens is, you don’t want to catch up with a game when you concede a two as a spinner and try and bowl a dot ball because that will end up going for a boundary. I continuously watch the Big Bash and tried and figured out how the spinners went about it. Because there is a trend and pattern to how cricket is being played in every part of the world, so it’s very important to assess that and try and gauge it,” he said.