Benoni: Dec 12, 2013
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin refused to read too much into India‘s 0-2 drubbing in the One-Day International (ODI) series against South Africa and said that the result has rather made the players “ready for a fight” in the two-match Test series beginning on December 18.
Ashwin did not the term the ODI series loss as disaster for India though he said it was not great either.
“I never like to call any series disastrous. It is a big word for me and disastrous is something that you use when a World War occurs. But what happened was not great either,” he said.
India lost the first ODI in Johannesburg by 141 runs and the second in Durban by 136 runs. The third ODI in Centurion was washed away mid-way into the match on Wednesday.
Ashwin sought to take positives from the ODI series loss and said all the players were now desperate to do well in the Test series which begins in Johannesburg.
“The ODI series loss has put everybody in a good frame of mind in terms of going out there and being prepared for what we’re going to get. We actually know what we will be getting out there. Everybody is desperate to do well and make sure that we can turn things around,” he said at a media interaction ahead of the two-day practice game against a South African Invitational XI beginning in Benoni on Friday.
The off-spinner said the Indian team will be looking to turn a corner in the Test series.
“Going into a series we are always confident, in terms of what we can achieve with the talent we have and the potential we can live up to.
“I am definitely looking to fight and am prepared for that. Be it with catching, be it with bowling or be it with batting, I am prepared for all. So I am just going to go out there and make sure that at least give it 100 per cent of what I can try and try for a series win. An overseas win means the most for me,” said Ashwin.
Ashwin’s confidence perhaps stems from the fact that he is currently the leading all-rounder in Test cricket and achieved this distinction after the first Test against the West Indies in Kolkata. He scored his second Test hundred there, 124 runs in the first innings, and helped India win with match-figures of five for 98.
Additionally, he stands at slips for the team, albeit this is an area that can do with some tightening up.
“The ball is travelling faster here and we have got to do a lot of work in terms of catching the ball. Some catches are definitely reaching you when you are not expecting them to, unlike back home. We will need to take as many catches before the start of the Test series,” he said, explaining India’s poor efforts on the field in the ODI series.
“Personally, in terms of what I wanted to achieve out of the ODI series it’s pretty much through. I wanted to test the conditions, see how much it responded to what I was delivering. In the third ODI, the Test match was more on my mind. I thought I can toss a lot more balls up and see where it goes. Definitely the ball was drifting much more.
“I am excited to see the bounce here because as a bowler I am very dependent on bounce. I’ve prepared myself in terms of what I can deliver at the best of my abilities and then I’ll take the situation at hand and do what the situation demands. I will be standing at slips, I will be bowling, I will be batting. I would fight in every department,” Ashwin added.
His remarks put focus on the role of spin in the upcoming Test series. In the past one year, playing 12 Tests at home, Ashwin, along with Pragyan Ojha, has played a stellar role.
Both spinners now boast of 100 Test wickets each.
After the loss to England last winter, captain MS Dhoni started deploying five bowlers in his Test XI, comprising of three spinners including Ravindra Jadeja. It is definitely not something that the team management is likely to repeat here in South Africa, or elsewhere overseas.
Even so, the role of spinners — one, two or three in the eleven — has always been very important to any Indian side.
“You can’t really put a finger on it and say this will be the role of spinners. Test matches are definitely different and they throw up different challenges. It will be more about the situation. If there is a situation where we have to play the role of keeping one end tight, then that will be done, of course.
“If you have picked up an early wicket, it certainly does help in these conditions. You can start attacking after that.
“It will be pretty similar to what happened in Australia in 2011-12. You will have to really rely on what the seamers have done up-front and do our job to the best of our abilities,” he said.
Ashwin also spoke about veteran Zaheer Khan who is returning to the Indian fold after nearly a year. It can only be good news for this young Indian line-up to have an experienced player guiding them, particularly after the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar.
“It is not like we are putting any extra pressure or expectations on Zaheer. But we know what he is capable of. He has done it so many times in the past and he is definitely going to be the leader of our attack, there are no two ways about that. We just hope to set the tone in Johannesburg and everybody is ready for that,” said Ashwin.
Ashwin was also asked about the role of a captain and the likely contest between Dhoni and his South African counterpart Graeme Smith.
“Culturally both countries are very different and that’s where you can expect a difference. With Dhoni, he will keep things very simple. That’s been the hallmark of his captaincy. He will look to lead from the front,” he said.
“Any opportunity that is provided he will look to lead from the front. In terms of leadership, it is very much about setting the tone here in Johannesburg. A captain can be only as good as his team. So how he sets the tone in Johannesburg is going to be very vital,” Ashwin concluded.
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