Chennai: India off-spinner R Ashwin, who scored his fifth Test century after a five-wicket haul to help India take the stranglehold of the second Test, said he brought out his sweep shot for the first time after well over a decade.
“After the last Test, we were thinking on how to counter [Jack] Leach and start bringing sweep to the game. The last time I was sweeping was probably when I was 19 years old; hit a couple of sweep shots, got dropped from the side, and maybe never played a sweep for the last 11, maybe 13-14 years. I’ve been practicing that shot for the last week to 10 days. Very, very thankful that the plan has really paid off,” Ashwin, who scored 106 to help India make 286 in the second innings and set a target of 482 runs for England, said after the third day’s play.
Ashwin credited India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour, a former India opener, for improvement in his batting.
“We have been practicing along with Vikram Rathour. Rathour has been very, very helpful trying to explore new options. He is someone who is facilitating me to go out there and be able to express myself, explore various options. I would love to credit him for how my batting has gone through the last four-five Test matches. He has kept me in the loop, said I have been batting very well. He asked me not to overthink but just look at the gameplan,” he disclosed.
Ashwin added that the big target has helped them be able to attack the batsmen with fielders around the bat.
“The wicket is such that you have to get runs square of the wicket. Sort of had a very, very good day. We posted a very good score. Now we can really attack with men around the bat,” said Ashwin.
“I think in the past when I have made my hundreds in India, Ishi [Ishant Sharma] has been a sort cog in the wheel. He has been with me twice when I made my hundred. He sort of understands how I go about it. Ishi was defending well. So, I thought I need to take calculated risks as long as he was there. But once Siraj came, I knew I had to get it done in a few overs. But I was super thrilled how he batted and hit the ball out of the ground,” he said smilingly.
On Siraj’s celebration after his hundred, Ashwin said: “Quite a funny thing [to see him] excited when I got to my hundred. That says a thing or two how the dressing room has been. Lived a dream over the past three-four months.”
Earlier, on Sunday, Ashwin became the first player in the 143-year history of Test cricket to take 200 wickets against left-handed batsmen. Fast bowler Stuart Broad was the 200th left-hander he dismissed.