Jaipur: India’s senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was full of praise for head coach Rahul Dravid after the hosts defeated New Zealand by five wickets in the first T20I of the three-match series in Jaipur on Wednesday. Ashwin, who picked up 2/23 in his quota of four overs in the 1st T20I, acknowledged the hard work Dravid had put in before climbing up the ranks in Indian cricket. The 35-year-old also urged the cricket fans to give some “breathing space” to the new head coach before passing on any verdict. India chased down a 165-run target against the Black Caps to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. With that, the Men in Blue begin the Rohit Sharma-Rahul Dravid era on an emphatic note.

Talking about Dravid’s coaching style, Ashwin said: “It’s too early for me to comment on Rahul Dravid’s coaching style, but he’s put the hard yards in through the Under-19 level etc.

Under Dravid’s coaching, the India U-19 team was runners-up at the 2016 U-19 Cricket World Cup and were winners at the 2018 U-19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand.

“He won’t leave much to chance, and he’ll be all about preparation and process so that we can bring the happiness back into the Indian dressing room,” Ashwin added.

Meanwhile, Ashwin played a key role with the ball in the first T20I as he picked up wickets of Mark Chapman and Glenn Phillips in a single over to dent New Zealand’s charge. Along with him, experienced pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar also finished with figures of 2/24 to restrict the visiting team to 164/6 in 20 overs.

Skipper Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav produced sublime knocks as India bungled towards end before recovering in time to fashion a five-wicket win over New Zealand in the opening T20 International ushering in a new era in Indian cricket.

“It’s tricky in T20s, you can’t miss your lengths and you don’t know when to toss it up but here it did help to give it some air. It was a slightly under-par score and we thought 170-180 would be par.

“We thought we would cruise home around the 15th over, but that’s T20 cricket for you. I bowled the first over in the powerplay, and figuring out the pace to bowl is important and it took me some time to figure that out. It’s about varying to pace and knowing when to vary it.

“It’s important to take each of the 24 balls as an event, and look at each ball in isolation and as an opporunity. You might have to play catch-up, but the batsman is trying to play catch-up and trying to play you too, so you can’t get intimidated,” Ashwin said after the match.