Ashwin: Breaking Harbhajan's tally has to be incredibly special

Ashwin became the second-highest wicket-taker for India at home overtaking Harbhajan Singh (265) and also becoming the first bowler to take 200 scalps of left-handed batsmen.

Ravichandran Ashwin in action during day two of the second Test in Chennai.   -  PTI Photo

India’s lead spinner R. Ashwin once again delivered with a five-wicket haul on Sunday to put the home side in the driver’s seat.

During the day, the 34-year-old became the second-highest wicket-taker for India at home overtaking Harbhajan Singh (265) and also becoming the first bowler to take 200 scalps of left-handed batsmen.

“When I was watching the 2001 series between India and Australia when Bhajju pa was playing, I didn’t even imagine I would go on to become an off-spinner for India. I was still a batsman for my state. A lot of my teammates back then used to make fun of me because I used to try to bowl like him. From there, to break his tally has to be incredibly special. I didn't know about it. Now that I know, I feel happy,” said Ashwin.

IND vs ENG: India extends lead after Ashwin takes five  

The off-spinner also pointed out that the pitch spinning from day one is not very different from seaming conditions in England and should be treated similarly.

“We will be putting another batting performance in it. It is about being patient, just like when you play on a seaming wicket.”

“You need to tide through the early phase and start putting runs on the board. When it comes to spin, they want conditions to be in their favour be it driving, cutting. On a seaming wicket, you can’t do all that when you play in the morning. So the same set of benchmarks must be set when you play spin on a challenging wicket,” he said.

 

The hometown hero also added, “I would say the challenges are far greater when the ball is moving at 140-150 kph off the deck, compared to a ball spinning at 85-90 kph.”

Commenting on the SG ball that came under criticism in the last match with the seam wearing after 40 overs, Ashwin said: “The ball has held on pretty well in this game. There was a massive difference from the last game to this game. In the last Test, the pitch was really hard for the first two days."

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Meanwhile, England assistant coach Graham Thorpe said the conditions were challenging and the early wickets set the team back.

“It was challenging for us on that surface on day two. They are a skilled spin attack on these conditions and it was a very good toss to win. We know the pitches deteriorate here as the game goes on and this one has gone a bit quicker,” said Thorpe.