AUS VS IND: “Nobody believed in me when it came to dismissing Smith” -R Ashwin

Ravichandran Ashwin gave his 100% in the recent Border-Gavaskar trophy but unfortunately got injured and was not part of the Gabba Test. He toured Australia on multiple occasions but this was one of the most difficult and challenging tours for 34 years old Indian off spinner. He played the crucial part with bat and bowl both in the series by neutralizing the threat of Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne. He didn’t provide Smith enough time to settle and send back him to the pavilion early most of the time.

When asked do you reckon the Aussies underestimated India’s bench strength?

“I am not too sure. I personally think they knew our bowling was going to challenge them all through the series. I think it is just that the team found ways to bounce back after being bowled out 36. It’s not just the bench strength alone that dictated the way the series went. Every time there was a challenge thrown, somebody in the team raised the bar,” replied Ashwin.

He also talked about the experience of the tour and compared it with his other series. “Looking back, you can say that. I’ve always maintained that you cannot really say this is the best or anything because you never know, something else could lie in front of you. Before the Adelaide game, I limited myself to a certain number of balls (in practice) because I just wanted to go there and get a feel of things. It didn’t look like I was going to start the series in all honesty. But 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,” he said.

When he asked to share his own views on him and Smith’s rivalry he said because of my earlier performances nobody was talking of me getting the wicket of Smith. Smith is one of the finest cricket of Test cricket but he couldn’t survive in front of Ashwin. “There has been a lot of noise about how I am bowling and pitting me against someone like Nathan Lyon. During the previous tour in Adelaide, I picked up six wickets and kept on bowling despite a tear in the abdomen. After the match, there was a comparison between us with suggestions of how well Lyon bowled. I felt it was extremely insensitive towards a good performance. 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. A lot of people were talking about who will dismiss Smith. But nobody even gave me a chance. Then, I made sure that people spoke about me at the end of the series,” Ashwin said.

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