Saturday, January 16, 2021

We need to play a good first session, without losing a wicket- Ashwin

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India’s lead spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Sunday spoke about India’s plans for Day 5 of the Pink Test, Steve Smith’s epic comeback, and racist abuse from the crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in the virtual press conference at stumps on day 4.

India ended the last session of day 4 at 98 for 2 after Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill put together the biggest opening stand of the series on either side. Another 309 runs to win the game with Skipper Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara in the middle on the final day and 8 wickets in hand. Ashwin admitted that teams can’t pre-mediate such big chases as unlike ODIs, Test cricket confers different challenges altogether.

Need Rahane, Pujara to score Big

“We need to play a good first session where it will be ideal for us not to lose a wicket. Pujara and Rahane have played enough Test cricket and they know what they need to do in this format of the game as they have played many good knocks. Rahane got a hundred at the MCG, Pujara got a fifty in the first innings. And we are all hopeful that they will do a good job.” 

“Unlike ODIs, in Tests, you don’t go into the fifth day of the Test looking at the target and say, we will go after it and win it. Red-ball cricket is much more different when you are playing on a day five wicket with different passages of play. Sometimes, when play to the merit of the ball, have the hunger, you put yourself into a situation where you can take initiative but no team goes into the morning thinking, we will certainly chase the total.

“In 2014 Adelaide as well, batsmen got to a good start and we believed that we can go for it. And tomorrow as well will go with the same belief as it is important to trust yourself when you play.”

Happy to get Smith out

Steve Smith scored his 27th hundred in the first innings which was backed by 81 run innings in the following innings. He was trapped in front by Ashwin denying him another hundred. The off-spinner expected “quality batsmen” to fight back in the series.

“We expect quality batsmen to come out with different plans. For starters, the wicket has had far lesser bounce and pace than MCG and Adelaide and SCG has been like that over the years. This was even slower than the regular Sydney pitch because of the amount of sun it received,”

“There was clear strategy from Marnus and Smith to not defend and push the ball, which they didn’t earlier. So the combination of the pitch and the strategy helped them. In the second innings, I put them through much pressure because the wicket was better. It’s a duel that I have really enjoyed as both are quality batsmen and I am happy to have got him out again.”

“Definitely not acceptable in this day and age”

Speaking on the racism issue the offie said it’s not new, Indian players have faced racism in Australia earlier too.

“Look I’d like to point out something. This is my fourth tour to Australia and Sydney especially here we’ve had a few experiences (racial abuse) even in the past,” the India off-spinner said. “I think one or two times, even players have reacted and gotten into trouble in the past and that’s not because of the player, it is actually because of the way the crowd has been speaking. Especially the people on the lower tier of the stands, they have been quite nasty and been quite abusive as well.

“But this is one time they’ve gone one step ahead and used racial abuses. Like we already mentioned, there was an official complaint lodged yesterday and the umpires also mentioned that we must bring it to their notice as it happens on the field. And they’ll be able to take action. It’s definitely not acceptable in this day and age, we’ve seen a lot, we’ve evolved as a society. And sometimes I think this roots back to the upbringing and the way one sees. This must be definitely dealt with an iron fist and we must make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“In 2011, I didn’t know what racism is and how you are made to feel small. And people also join the laugh.” Ashwin condemned the unsavory incident.

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