It may be a do-or-die encounter for India but off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin insisted that the home team was under no added pressure despite trailing Australia 1-2 ahead of the sixth and penultimate game of the ODI cricket series.
“There is no pressure as such we are just going out and enjoying ourselves. This game is going to be crucial, so we just want to enjoy ourselves and see where we can take it. It has been a good and tight series so far,” said Ashwin ahead of the game at the VCA Stadium in Jamtha.
India lost the first and third ODIs in Pune and Mohali, chased a huge score of 359 successfully in the second game at Jaipur, before the fourth and fifth matches in Ranchi and Cuttack respectively were washed out.
The Indian bowling attack has been regularly carted around by the Australian batsmen, with captain George Bailey and opener Aaron Finch in an especially punishing mood.
Ashwin, who too has been a disappointment so far, said every bowler has been trying to improve.
“We are constantly looking to improve as such. There are always areas that you can work on, constantly looking to improve on. I have been trying to work on bowling more and more because that’s the only way that you can get better.
There is nothing as such to worry. The name of the game is to keep improving,” said the Chennai off-spinner.
Asked about the way the visitors have upped the tempo in the middle and final overs, Ashwin said the Aussie batsmen had played some high risk shots and succeeded and it was a challenge for him and others to counter.
“It is the trend of the series. We have been chasing down big scores. We have chased down 360. The score has predominately been around 300. Any team that has batted first has predominately got around 300-run mark.
“It’s definitely challenging in terms of what the batsmen are doing. They are going for their shots. They are playing the high risk shots, the credit needs to be given. But as I said we keep trying to devise different strategies and see what we can do.”
When questioned about the impact the ODI rule changes on field restrictions was having on the bowlers, the off-spinner said his focus was on trying to find ways to cope up with them as best as he could.
“As I have already said, the demands of the game are such that you need to keep evolving as a cricketer. As long as the decision is not in my court, I cannot do anything about it.
Whatever decision is being made I will have to try and cope with it. I am sure all cricketers are doing the same thing,” he said.
Asked about the drop in fielding standards of the home team when compared to the triumphant run in the ICC Champions Trophy in England, Ashwin brushed it aside saying it was all part of the game
“These things do happen. Batsmen do nick the first ball and it does happen in a game. As long as you are putting in the hard yards then you just have to be okay with it.”
He said he was not a good reader of a cricket track when asked whether he expected the wicket to turn a bit, as predicted by rival spinner Xavier Doherty.
“Unless the game begins I will not be able to say what is on offer…hope it just spins a bit and stays low a bit. But that’s not what we are looking at. We are looking at another good game.”
Asked about his extended stint of bowling to a single stump on the track adjacent to the wicket prepared for the track along with medium pacers Mohammed Shami and R Vinay Kumar, with bowling coach Joe Dawes in attendance, Ashwin said they wanted to try out things a bit differently.
“It is not about any special session. It is just that we needed to do something specific for our own self rather than just go in there and keep bowling to the batter. We thought that we needed a bit of a break, needed a change in the way we are practicing.”
“So we just thought that we will try and do some spot bowling, try and take the onus away from what the batsman is doing. We were trying to work on more mental space, a good space to be in before a game,” Ashwin said.
“We had a long session yesterday so we wanted to make it as short as possible today so that we can have as much as energy as possible in the game. It is quite hot,” he added.
Ashwin said he enjoyed soaking the extra pressure by bowling at the death or in powerplays.
“Personally I feel that if an additional burden is given to me, I am going to enjoy it. When you are representing the nation you and if the person next to you is not having a great day it is your responsibility to stand up.
“I feel it is a really exciting prospect to do something that is not in your zone probably like bowling at the death, bowling in the powerplay (overs). Honestly everybody is not going to have the best of days and we have got to really stand up for each other.”