Ashwin bids to get back on track

Off-spinning all-rounder R. Ashwin, who missed the last three Tests of the four-match series against Australia because of an abdominal strain, has recovered well and is raring to go.

Ravichandran Ashwin heaped praise on No. 3 batsman Pujara and speedster Jasprit Bumrah for India's historic Test series triumph Down Under.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The past few months tested his resolve. Fitness concerns proved a roadblock. Now, his focus unwavering, he is back on the road.

Off-spinning all-rounder R. Ashwin missed the last three Tests of the historic four-match series against Australia because of an abdominal strain.

He has recovered well. So much so that he is batting and bowling without any discomfort in the TNCA first division league, where he notched up a half-century for MRC ‘A’ here on Saturday.

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Ashwin said later, “I’m almost back to 100 per cent. I've bowled close to 40 overs in the last game but I would like to keep going through the journey.”

Along the way, he has not allowed disappointments to consume him. “I’ve always loved playing matches together. It’s quite unfortunate that when I was bowling really well overseas, I had to encounter injuries back to back. It’s frustrating but you have to put it behind and keep moving.”

Looking back at the triumphant Test series in Australia, Ashwin said, “ We won the first Test which was close. The second Test they won and after that the way we bounced back in Melbourne and Sydney was fantastic.”

Ashwin elaborated, “A lot of credit needs to go to Pujara because he dead-batted them all through the series and took the wind away from their bowling attack. Once we got some runs, that Australian batting line-up was pretty inexperienced and they struggled.”

Ashwin praised Pujara’s patience. “It was really important for the top-order to grind it out. That’s exactly what Pujara did. Credit to him because it wasn’t that easy. He stayed disciplined through hours together to get those runs.”

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The off-spinner felt Pujara had displayed enormous mental fortitude. “It wasn’t easy because in the past it was said that he was playing at a slow strike-rate. To go out of the team and come back and do what he does best and keep that mental focus was fabulous. I'm very happy for him.”

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Ashwin acknowledged the role played by the pacemen in India’s Test conquest down under. "I thought Bumrah was fantastic. He definitely set the series up for us. In my view, both Bumrah and Shami were relentless with their pace. Especially Bumrah, since he is in the first half of his Test career and he hardly gives any hit-me balls.”

Asked whether he was hopeful of a recall in the shorter formats, Ashwin said, “I’m staying positive in terms of what cricket I have to play and how I have to play.  I have always given my best wherever and whenever I played. It doesn’t put any undue pressure on me.”