Ravichandran Ashwin was the Man of the Match  in the third ODI © Getty Images
Ravichandran Ashwin was the Man of the Match in the third ODI © Getty Images (File Picture)

By Chetan Narula

Birmingham: Sep 1, 2014

Ravichandran Ashwin’s performance in the shorter versions has been comparatively better than Test cricket which the burly Tamil Nadu spinner attributes to the time spent at the nets with his personal coach sorting out his bowling action. “I have put considerable amount of work into it, a good 55-60 days of work back at home with my coach. I have been trying to sort out my action and extract as much as possible from the wicket. Thankfully the results are coming,” Ashwin told reporters on the eve of the fourth one-dayer here tomorrow.

The ‘four-fielder outside the 30-yard circle’ rule has something that has been troubling the Indian spinners and Ashwin feels that he is working around the restrictions chalking out his own plan. “The fifth fielder [earlier rule] actually determined the length of a spinner. Now as per new rules, depending on which fielder, you have up [inside the circle], you have to bowl fuller, pull up your length, have to play in between that and try taking risks in between that,” Ashwin signed off.

Having received man-of-the-match award in the previous game, Ashwin was all praise for the fielding unit, which has been bolstered by the presence of Suresh Raina. “We had six or seven new players coming in for the One-day Internationals [ODIs] and that has obviously helped lift the team? This sort of thing happens [referring to dropped catches during Tests], when you have had a bad series, which was how the Tests ended for us. Now you have fresh legs coming in. It brings a bit of fresh attitude into the squad,” he added.

“It is good and refreshing. The other day at Cardiff, Mohammad Shami took a good catch in the deep and he made it look easy. Ashwin especially was ecstatic about Raina’s reflex catch in the slips during the other game. “That catch from Suresh Raina (at Nottingham) was amazing. The moment he caught it, I forgot that I had got a wicket and went berserk seeing the way he had taken that catch. It really motivates the whole team and other slip fielders, me being one of them as well,” he added.

The Indian team has a lot of happy memories at Edgbaston and Ashwin feels that if they can clinch the series tomorrow, it would be a nice way to celebrate the team’s elevation to the top rank in ODIs in the latest International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings. “We have been Nos 1 or 2 in the ODIs over the last few seasons. In between, there have been series where we haven’t done well and there has been a bit of a concern of not closing out games. But the reality is that in the last 3-4 years, we have had some good times in ODI cricket so even when we have lost we have competed very well. That has been a positive for us and we have been doing well and we will continue to do well in the lead-up to the World Cup,” Ashwin said.

England have struggled in the middle overs particularly against the spinners, throwing the hosts’ World Cup preparations haywire. “It has been one of our strengths especially in middle overs and we have always operated in that fashion. There are times when the batsmen get going and we are not able to take wickets. Those are really hard times but if we get a wicket or two, we can put a hold on the batsmen then that’s a comfortable domain for us,” said Ashwin.

The offie feels that a good start given by the new ball bowlers helps the slow bowlers to keep up the pressure. “The ideal situation is when they are 2-3 wickets down and that’s what happened in Cardiff when Shami bowled that initial spell. But if that doesn’t happen, then you have to see how much of a restrictive role you are going to play because the batting team is going to have 9-10 wickets in the bag,” he added.

Complete coverage of India’s tour to England here