Perth: India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin loves a good fight and that’s the reason he is more excited than intimidated at the prospect of challenging the ever aggressive Chris Gayle against the West Indies in their cricket World Cup match here tomorrow. “It’s not just about Chris Gayle but any attacking batsman in world cricket. Anybody who attacks wants to put you off your hook. It’s similar. I’m content to look at the wicket and I go strongly for getting wickets off any batsman that I think is dangerous, because I like it,” Ashwin told mediapersons at the pre-match conference today.
“I like to throw myself in the middle and try to see how much I can make an impact in that particular game. Be it Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers anybody. I look to get them out in the middle. Once you get them out, the game is going to clear the way,” he said. With eight wickets from three games so far, Ashwin has made a great start to the World Cup but he doesn’t want to term it as his best-ever bowling. “I’m pleased. It is quite heartening to get wickets. It is always good to perform well. It gives you a lot of confidence. I think my journey as a bowler in international cricket has been some sort of a learning curve. There are times when you think you’re bowling really well and you end up learning even more in that particular phase. So you can’t really say you’re bowling at your best,” the lad from Tamil Nadu insisted.
“There have been times before when I thought I’m bowling at my best, but immediately like in 10 months or a year’s time, I always found there is another gear to go up. You never know with this game. If you’re open to learning, I think the summit is very high,” he added. Asked about his preparation for this game, Ashwin replied, “But in terms of preparation for the game, it’s going to be the same. Because we prepare for every other team like we prepare for the big teams. It’s not going to be very different. We’re pretty confident about executing tomorrow.”
The burly bowler also spoke with caution as he didn’t want to look too far ahead to the semi-final. “I don’t think we’re there. There are three games and Ireland’s also played good cricket. We’re pretty aware of what’s happening around us in the group. It’s very important that we take it one game at a time. We like to treat every game like it’s a knockout game so that it propels us in a good state.”
Indian cricket Team Director Ravi Shastri, in a recent interview to PTI termed the tri-nation ODI series that preceded the World Cup, as a “waste of time”. Asked about his take on the subject, Ashwin replied: “You know, it’s very hard to take up on opinions because he said it’s a waste of time. And if I say it’s not a waste of time, that’s going to be a contradiction. So that’s not the route I’m going to be taking. I think exactly what he meant was to say it was draining on boys. I think he was fair enough in saying that.
“And we play cricket all 12 months a year, and there are times you feel really low and it’s hard to pick yourself up and that was one of those times and he was very clear in expressing that, I thought,” Ashwin said. Ashwin thanked the new ball bowlers for providing breakthroughs upfront. “I think it’s huge in the sense if you get a couple of wickets upfront, then the entire game turns on its head. As far as a spinner is concerned, when I come in, I’ve got that little bit more freedom. Having said that, I just made up my mind that I’m going to bowl this way the entire tournament.
“There are times when I prepare for such big tournaments as to what I’m going to be doing. Come what may, I’ll try to execute it, and that is one of the reasons that I’ve come out to express myself in any of these major tournaments. I like the big stage, and I like to assume I like to do it my way.” Asked about the challenges of bowling in the mandatory Batting Powerplay, Ashwin said, “No particular plans. I mean, it’s pretty simple. You’ve got to restrict to hitting to one side of the grounds because you have three fielders and maximize those particular three fielders and try to see how much you can restrict the hitting to that side.
“If there are pockets that open up and there are times you feel you can attack, and batting is a very good time to attack because you don’t get a lot of singles. It’s pretty much about boundaries and wickets, and you can restrict the hitting to one side and see if you can get a wicket or two.” Queried if the plan changes as per pitch conditions, Ashwin replied, “For me, most of my bowling is up in my head. It’s very mental as far as I’m concerned. If there is an approach to be taken in any big tournaments, if you look around yourself, you always see a lot of insecurities, and I try to capitalise on insecurities.
For me, I love the game more than anything else. When I go out to play, I tell myself if I excel, I excel. If I don’t excel, I don’t want to exist in a normal beat. You know what I mean? I don’t want to be there with someone else. If I excel, I excel.”