Mumbai: Nov 12, 2012
The off spinner said he is confident of tackling the batsman’s unorthodox stroke-play. He said, “If Pietersen does that in a Test match against me I will be very happy because I can put a fielder where I want to and that is not the case in ODIs or T20s.
“If he is courageous to play the switch-hit then I am also ready to take him on. If Pietersen does manage to pull it off in this series his efforts will have to be appreciated.”
The bowler also added that he has immense respect for the English batting line-up which has been very successful in last few years in putting a massive total on board.
He was quoted by Indian Express as saying, “England’s top six batsmen are extremely experienced and we have to give them their due and give them respect. They will have plans to counter our bowling.
“Bowling to batsmen like Trott, Bell and Pietersen will be a challenge. I know that if I rise to the challenge and deliver in this series I can take my game to the next level.”
Indian spinners have always been effective in the Indian conditions and have proven to be match winners. Since the retirement of legendary Anil Kumble, Ashwin has been handling the mantle of being the lead spinner along with the left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha. However, that does not put any pressure on the off spinner.
He said, “So far nobody has put any burden of expectation on me, so I don’t know. For me, it is all about self-expectation and self-motivation and playing against England gives me enough motivation.
“In the England series at home we will be up against quality batsmen and it will be a new challenge. I am hoping to win this battle.”
Ashwin declines to be called as the main spinner in the team and feels pacer Zaheer Khan and Ojha are senior to him in the bowling attack, and that both have been very successful in their respective roles.
He said, “I have not looked at my role in that manner. Ojha is senior to me going by the number of Test matches he has played and he has done exceedingly well and should be given equal credit.
“Zaheer Khan is the lead bowler when it comes to our attack.”
Ashwin feels the tracks at home will be helpful for spinners, especially on the fourth and fifth day of the match.
He said, “It is not about control really. At home the wicket is going to be much slower and a spinner comes into play. When we go abroad teams don’t give us flat or dry wickets. A sporting wicket can also be one on which spinners have a role to play on the fourth and fifth day.
“Teams like Australia and England know that they played to their strength when it came to pitches when we toured there and they are aware that we will now play to our strength.
“But if you recall, spinners from Australia and England have done well on pitches in India on the fourth and fifth day.”
Ashwin feels it augurs well for a bowler to have a fast bowler’s attitude and play aggressively.
“That is the name of the game because you have to be prepared to attack and only then will you be able to pick up wickets,” he said.” There are times when you have to bowl according to the match situation but 90 per cent of the time I go with the mindset of talking a wicket.”
Ashwin revealed that he has been working on developing variety in his bowling. However, he is not eager to bowl differently in the upcoming Test matches.
He said, “You have to constantly keep working on something but I am not someone who will try and work on something unless I really feel like it or see the need for it.
“But if I feel there is a genuine need to change something in my bowling I keep working on it.
“But I have to be fully confident that what I have worked on in the nets will be effective in the match otherwise I don’t bring it out. At the moment I have been working on a few things but I don’t think it will be the right time to use them in a Test match.”
Ashwin says he has a healthy rapport with his bowling partner Ojha for a long time and both complement each other well during a match.
He said, “We played India Under-17 and Under-19 together and though I was more of a part-timer those days we would still bowl in tandem. We talk openly and are not afraid to give critical feedback to each other.”
The spinner also added that he would not hesitate to take guidance from the senior off spinner Harbhajan Singh, who makes a comeback to the Indian squad for the England series.
He said, “I may suddenly have a question that may pop up in my mind and then I ask him. He has over a decade of experience and if I need to ask him anything I just go ahead.”