Despite not being a sure shot-starter, Ravichandran Ashwin turned his fortunes around to become the best spinner of the 2020-21 Australia series, which he claims to be his best performance in last three years. He also insisted that he has done enough to be the best spinner in India.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s place in the starting line-up was always going to be a tricky one for the visitors, who had to keep in mind of having just four bowlers. While Ashwin’s bowling proved to be a game-changer on the second day of the first Test, where he picked up 4/55, his batting was still under the scanner. If not for the injury to Ravindra Jadeja, it would have been a struggle for Ashwin to feature over the left-arm spinner in the first place.
Yet the off-spinner made the fullest use of the opportunity that he got, picking up 12 wickets in the series. After the conclusion of the series, the Tamil Nadu spinner claimed that the recently concluded series against Australia was his best performance over the last three years.
“It didn’t look like I was going to start the series in all honesty. But (Ravindra) Jadeja damaged his hamstring and that is why I got my opportunity in the first Test. Things fell in place and I also have been feeling over the last two years that I have been bowling well. Yes, 2018-19 (series in Australia) was good, but I think 2020-21 was one of the best if you compare the last three years,” Ashwin told Times of India.
Another issue that has haunted the off-spinner in the past is his batting, which has plummeted to an all-time low. However, when the situation arose in Sydney, the right-hander made a telling statement, with a match-saving innings for the country, his first big knock since the West Indies tour. He also stated that over the last three years across SENA (South Africa - England - New Zealand - Australia), he has done enough to warrant the first-choice role.
“Ever since I've just been playing Test cricket, it's pretty much a one game here or there. I’m constantly fighting for a lone spinner’s spot. If I have to be judged on my batting skills, then an innings or two alone to drop me out of a particular series, I felt, wasn’t justified. I am looking to fight for my place and when I'm doing that I need to emphasize my primary skill which is to pick up wickets. Over the last two years in SENA tours, I think I have done enough to say I am the best spinner,” he added.
On top of all of this, Ashwin was put constantly under the microscope and compared to the Australian spinner, Nathan Lyon. Ashwin stated that it wasn’t him competing against Lyon but against Smith the entire series, where he wanted to prove a point. Smith has an excellent record against visiting spinners in Australia, until the 2020 series.
“I feel I have been constantly put under the microscope. So rather than me competing against Lyon, I thought I must be competing against Smith. Lyon is a lovely bowler and I have respect for him. But my focus was on something else. There were records that Smith had never got out to spinners in Australia. I wanted to turn that around,” he concluded.