Don’t want to set goals or put pressure on myself: R Ashwin
R Ashwin is yet to play for India in 2019. (AFP Image)

An impressive outing for Nottinghamshire behind him, R Ashwin is geared up for India’s Test series against West Indies starting August 22. In three matches, Ashwin snared 17 wickets for the county side, with three five-wicket-hauls, and although his match tally of 12/144 and an unbeaten 66 against Surrey was not enough to prevent Nottinghamshire from going down by 167 runs, it’s put Ashwin in the right frame of mind ahead of his return to India’s Test side.

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“I do not want to set goals or targets, put pressure on myself,” Ashwin told The Hindu. “I am bowling to a good rhythm; the ball is coming out nicely from the hand and I just want to continue in this vein. I had a rewarding time with Nottinghamshire in the English county, was among wickets and runs. So the confidence is there.

“I want to take it as it comes. Importantly from my side, I am fit and I am bowling well. And I can always bat.”

Ashwin may have lost his place in India’s limited-overs set-up but remains India’s leading, front-line spinner in Tests. The last time India toured the West Indies in 2016, Ashwin bagged 17 wickets from four Tests. However, this time around, despite India already sweeping the home team 3-0 in T20Is and leading 1-0 in ODIs, Ashwin believes it might not be easy to defeat them in Tests.

“The surfaces there can be a bit up and down. The bounce can be inconsistent. Some of the pitches can be on the quicker side too. So you got to adapt,” he said. “They defeated England at home in a Test series last year. They have a really good pace attack and some young, exciting batsmen like Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer. We cannot take them lightly.”

Ashwin also welcomed the introduction of the World Test championship calling it a “step in the right direction”. “It’s a step in the right direction. It gives a context and meaning to every Test series. After all, Test cricket is the most complete and testing form of the game,” reckoned Ashwin.

The West Indies Tests will be Ashwin’s first appearance for India this year. Ashwin last played Test cricket for India during the first game of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia. Having taken six wickets, Ashwin injured himself on the fourth morning of the Adelaide Test in December which further aggravated. He went on to miss the second and third Tests in Melbourne and Perth with a “left-sided abdominal strain”. Ashwin resumed his race against time to be fit for the final Test in Sydney and was even named in the 13 named for the finale but sat out.

“It will be great to be with the bunch again. There is nothing quite like playing for India. We dream of it when we are young. India has been playing some very good cricket. We have exciting times ahead,” he said.