BIRMINGHAM: R Ashwin came into this Test series with quite a few question marks hanging over his head. While the premier offie’s performances outside the subcontinent was an issue that was being discussed, Kuldeep Yadav’s emergence as the new mystery spinner too sparked debates whether the chinaman should be the lone tweaker in the playing XI.
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But Virat Kohli chose to stick with Ashwin for the first Test and the Chennai boy showed that he has developed into a spinner who can make a difference anywhere around the world.
With the England batting line-up dominated by left-handers, Ashwin banked on the classical off-spinning delivery to make life difficult for the likes of Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Ben Stokes and Dawid Malan, among others.
The most striking, without a doubt, was the way he got Cook in both the innings. “It was the same delivery,” Ashwin said, explaining the ball that left the left-hander to clip the off-bail.
Ashwin’s performance in the first Test, where he finished with figures of 7-110, was the result of a lot of hard work that he had put in. He had spent some free time last year playing County cricket for Worcestershire and that worked for him going into the Test series.
“Personally, there were quite a few learnings from my stint (with Worcestershire) last year here. It was not just in terms of pure skill, but also how the game is being read here and players go about their business in terms of pacing out their innings and how much the Dukes ball does in the first 40 overs. Those are the learnings I had and as a spinner I feel the ball is definitely different to Kookaburra and SG,” Ashwin said, explaining his success with the new ball in both the innings.
In fact, Ashwin said that it was during his Worcestershire stint last year that he noticed that the Dukes ball tends to slip out of the hand while delivering. “It was on my mind. That is why I worked on how wide my grip can be and how close I can get to the stumps,” the offie added.