Ravichandran Ashwin thanked Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli for reposing confidence and promoting him up the order in the 1st Test against the Windies. For long treated only as a bowler despite his batting credentials, Ashwin regretted that he was not given the chance earlier despite good performances.
He was the ICC's No.1 Test all-rounder ending the 2015 calendar year. He had two Test centuries prior to the match. He had salvaged India from many a tricky situation before playing with other lower-order batsmen. But, Ravichandran Ashwin was still considered as only a bowler until now. When he was finally given the chance to bat up the order, the offie from Tamil Nadu proved himself yesterday scoring his third Test century.
Speaking at the press conference after the day, Ashwin thanked the coach and the captain and also bemoaned the lack of faith in him so far. “Yeah, I've always wanted to bat in the top-seven for the Indian team, which is a long-time goal that I have to try to strive to get better at. I need to thank Anil bhai and Virat for having the confidence in me to be pushed at number six. There have been times in the past when I've played really well, and haven't really got the promotion.
“This really says a whole lot of things about me. Virat called me in the morning and said 'you'll be batting at six, ahead of Saha', which is a big boost to my batting confidence.
“In between, I played an over from Gabriel which was a bit loose, and Virat came up to me and said that is what you need to avoid in Test cricket to be more successful,” he said.
Asked about his special liking for the West Indies against whom he scored his earlier two centuries as well, Ashwin said, “That's because I've got more time to bat against them. Whenever I've gone in, I've had a batsman to play with. All the times I made a hundred. Once, I had Rohit and I have Virat and again Virat. That's an important factor for a batsman lower down to get a hundred. And obviously, this game I batted at (No.) six, so that gave me ample time to try and play it out.
Yes, I have got runs against West Indies, and if you start getting a liking towards a team, you have that inside factor which tells you that you can do it again.
But the sweet taste of success has been the result of a sustained effort from Ashwin's part. He explained how he had to effect a change in batting stance – something difficult even for a full-time batsman mid-career.
“First things first, Sanjay Bangar worked really closely with my stance for the last 12 months. It has been a challenge. I used to be extra side-on and I had to open myself a little bit. That change is very effective. I've not driven straight down the ground for a very long time. (So) that is a pretty evident one. The other things like my initial movement and other things had to be sorted. It was a process for like 10-12 months, and on the way, I did lose a few innings as a batsman as well,” said the off-spinner.
Speaking about batting with Virat Kohli, who was in his 'zone' the entire duration of his maiden double century, Ashwin was all praise.
“It's not a wicket where you walk in put your feet 'plonk' and just hit it. There is good bounce in the wicket. And there are areas where the ball is coming at different paces as well. When I walked in started batting I felt like Virat was hitting a few shots that were almost impossible for me to connect. And that is the sheer brilliance of how Virat has been batting over the last year or so. He's just playing a few shots which makes the bowling look ridiculous. I should say those shots are out of ordinary shots,” he concluded.