After bagging another five-wicket haul against the Windies at Jamaica, India offie Ravichandran Ashwin talked about his hunger to bag five-fers whenever he bowls. The 29-year-old also said that he was surprised by the decision of the home side to bat first in a sticky wicket after winning the toss.
Five-wicket hauls have become a routine exercise for Ravichandran Ashwin. In a Test career of 34 Tests, the Tamil Nadu cricketer has taken 18 five-wicket hauls and could become the fastest to 200 wickets, if we can get 12 more wickets in the next three innings. Speaking to reporters after securing another five-wicket haul on Saturday, Ashwin opened up about his desire to get a five-fer every time.
“For starters, whenever I have started a tour or a series, my initial intention is to get a five-wicket haul. Like a batsman wants to go out there to get hundred, my intention is to get a five-wicket haul. Once I get that momentum, I try and capitalize on it through the tournament. I don't turn back. Once I pick up a couple of wickets, I'm looking always to hit the five-wicket mark. It's sort of psychological thing. It's sort of a hunger for me, nothing else,” Ashwin told the media.
West Indies' decision to bat first on a surface which was offering a lot of help to the pacers came as a surprise for most, including Ashwin. He said, "I was pretty surprised that they won the toss and batted first today," Ashwin said. "Like Virat mentioned at the toss, there was a bit in it, it was a bit sticky. Maybe I would've batted as well. But with their strengths, I thought it was a bit surprising."
After a good start by the fast bowlers, Ashwin helped India bowl out the Indies for a paltry 196, before KL Rahul got India off to a solid start. India ended the day in complete control of the match, but Ashwin refused to rule out West Indies yet.
"I was really taken aback by the counterattack that [Jermaine] Blackwood did," he said. "It sort of put the game in the balance. And we had to break [through] twice and brought the game back. It's clearly a game where the experienced side is seizing the more opportune moments. I would put it that way. With a little bit of experience and nailing the right moments, the game could get closer.
"This game has a lot of uncertainties. We just saw one when Sri Lanka pulled it off against Australia [in the Pallekele Test]. And they did the same against us in Galle [in 2015], so we can't be lacklustre with that, we will have to keep doing our process properly," he explained.
The 29-year-old's performance was assisted by the variations that was on offer on the damp pitch of the Sabina Park. He said, "A little bit of bounce and speed variation, that was important, I thought. Most of the dismissals were brought about by difference in speeds rather than much of spin, actually. It was initially damp and there was some turn, but after that, it flattened out a bit and started going straight. This ball, once it gets older, it becomes easier to bat. There's a lot more time. I think it was more about bounce and speed variation that created the problem."
At this rate, Ashwin is right on track to break the five-wicket haul record of Muttiah Muralitharan, who picked up 67 in 133 Tests, and said that he is looking to do so at some point in his career.
"Everybody wants to start playing cricket one day to achieve what nobody else could achieve," Ashwin said. "I am happy to be there, at some stage of my career where I am better than everybody else who has played the game. It feels nice, but the only thing that is constant is trying to improve from wherever you are. I think change is very very important. Keeping on benchmarking yourself is more important. This is good, but tomorrow is a different day and you have to keep improving," Ashwin said.
Speaking about KL Rahul, who got India off to a perfect start with a knock of unbeaten 75, Ashwin said he wasn't surprised by his performance.
"I've nicknamed him batting machine. He keeps batting all the time and it's not a surprise that he's made runs and I'm very happy for him," Ashwin said.
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