All-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin said on Saturday that India must pile the pressure on early and be clinical in their execution if they want to get past Zimbabwe and into the ICC Men’s T20 World Cupsemifinals.
The two sides meet at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday after India’s narrow five-run win over Bangladesh put them top of Group 2 with six points from four games.
They will power into the last four with a victory over the African side.
On the flip side, they could still be caught if beaten, depending on the outcome of Sunday’s other games, in which South Africa face the Netherlands and Pakistan take on Bangladesh.
Here’s are excerpts from Ashwin’s press conference:
On spending time in training to practice against the short ball
I don’t have a lot of balls to plan and take it on. But, you know, that’s pretty much been our plan here.
I think it’s not only the lower batsman. Because of the bounce and boundary sizes, people have tended to go a lot of length and short balls.
It is a very critical shot to practice. You can’t keep thinking ‘go in there and think how I’m going to rotate it’ and all of that. You have to be practicing and giving your instinct the best chance to hit that ball.
Glad it worked. Hopefully, it keeps working.
On matchups in T20 cricket
I don’t think players innately have to necessarily believe in matchups, but I think it’s an area that teams and tactical edges are happening around.
I think it’s safe to say that one end of the spectrum is to plan for all those things, but as a bowler you need to constantly bowl to a lot of batters. You need to constantly know where the Achilles heels are and work on it and try and get better. You want to add that to your skills be it with the bat or the ball.
I think it is a feature that’s existing, and it is definitely being developed. As a playing unit, to only believe in that and say this is what this guy will bowl to this person, you can’t work like that. But I think it’s giving a tactical edge to teams.
On his expectation of the conditions before coming to Australia
I thought my entire sunscreen will be used. Unfortunately, no (laughing). It’s hit me.
I generally like cold weather. I’ve been to England and played a lot of cricket there, but this has been very unique and different.
If you are playing a Test match, you can warm up through the day or get better, but playing T20 cricket in this weather, not to know what the surface will be like, how it will respond, what the weather is like, it’s been a new experience coming to Australia. Yeah, it’s been a unique World Cup that way.
On any changes he had to make to his bowling
Not really. I think one of the greatest features of T20 cricket is how you adapt to a particular situation given that day or time, given the demands of the game, where you are bowling, where you’re not bowling, and which batsmen you are coming up against, what are the situations, et cetera.
Pretty much the roles have been the fast bowlers have set the tone. As a spinner coming in the back half 9th or 10th and then doing the job for the back end is a role that we have to adapt to.
It’s not like I haven’t done that role before. It happens in the IPL now and then. So, the demands of the game, what the situation is and what you have to deliver for the team is exactly what adaptations call.
On anything different he may have noticed in the grounds India is playing in
It would be unfair to say it’s different or it’s anything because we’ve never come to Australia this time of the year. Generally, when it comes to the sport itself, conditions are king. So, you need to understand that this is what is being presented in front of you.
Like I said, T20 is one sport where you need to adapt quickly and also respond quickly. You don’t have the time or the band width to be able to think, assess, and deliver. The time spans are very short.
But the one thing is some other teams have managed to stay in one venue and play at a certain venue a couple of times, which the Indian team hasn’t had the luxury of doing and rightly so. There are a lot of Indian people around the country that want to watch the game, so it’s understandable.
On if the conditions and early season pitches have altered the plan for spin bowlers
You can’t make a concrete plan, go out there and say this is going to be my plan. Like, you have to adapt to the situation then and there. You see what’s in front of you, what the score card is, what the required rate is, and then go about delivering the best ball that you can.
Very often in T20 cricket it’s - I mean, as a bowler, you love to get wickets by the buckets, but it might not be the necessary thing when it comes to T20 cricket when you are playing. So, you might have to deliver handover at 8 or 9, and the next person might end up picking up the wickets, whoever has a better chance of getting the wickets.
It’s simple as far as I’m concerned. That’s been my approach that’s given me success be it with the ball or the ball to play then and there the situation and what’s the best chance of success for me or for my team. That’s how we go about it.
On if India has had an easy route to the semifinal
We had quite some close games. Yeah, Bangladesh, Pakistan, all these games went down to the wire.
Look, I think in T20 cricket, to follow common cricket cliches, I hope it changes at some time. But I think even people watching the game, giving their expert opinions on the game are still learning the ropes, I would say, because the game is diverted by such small margins. Even sometimes I’ve spoken to experts and ex-cricketers. They themselves feel they are sometimes catching up with the pace of the game and how the game has evolved.
It will be unfair to say that a team is not stepped you are, or a team is not looking at its best because it’s on the day. Like I said, it’s on the day. How are you going to counter a plan that’s delivered? How are you going to counter a bowler that’s bowled a good first over.
It’s then and there. You can’t really lay down and say the team did not play good cricket or played wonderful cricket. It’s on the day how well you execute your skills.
T20 cricket is standing on small margins, so to make any previews ahead or - I would better say just make a review after the game, which is much better.
On the fielding not being up to the mark
Look, hard work and practice, catching high balls, flat balls, all the ground fielding. Everybody is putting in the hard work.
Like I said, on the game day, what happens, how you might drop a catch or what you do is very, very important. Having said that, we have had a couple of ordinary games where we’ve also had a wonderful game last game against Bangladesh catching, and that probably turned the game on its head.
Like I said, it’s been a very different Australia. The weather has been very cold. Not only the catches. There have been teams which have a very, very good time in the park in this tournament who have also dropped catches.
I think there could be something to do with the conditions or the climate or the weather or the lack of reference point when the high catches are coming.
Keeping all that in mind, we are putting in the hard yards. On that day it just needs to turn. Whoever works harder, gets luckier.
On the bowlers’ run out at non-striker’s end
Honestly, I also wouldn’t like to get out like that (smiles) just because I don’t like - it’s not like I can’t get out like that. So, nobody likes getting out. I don’t like being nicked off, bowled, run out or any way. Likewise I also wouldn’t like to get run out at the non-striker because it’s a form of dismissal, and it’s pretty legal.
See, there aren’t a lot of arguments around it. Like with anything else in this world, when some things happen, you’re going to have people with contradicting thoughts. Whether you want to do it or don’t want to do it is absolutely fine.
It’s good to know that they [some cricketers] won’t do it because you can run the last minute, and you can wait. It’s good. I mean, if people are going to come out and say that they won’t do it, as a cricketer, I’ll use that as an advantage for myself.
On the chances of the match against Zimbabwe being straightforward
Nothing is straightforward. No one win has come easy in this World Cup. See, as the game is wider in a Test match or something, you have a bad session with the quality or the pure experience of a team, you can always rally around and come back in a series. In a Test match or in a series.
In T20 cricket the timelines are very little, so if it’s not going your way, you can’t, like, say okay, we’ll look after it later on. You have to take the initiative and go ahead and try and put the pressure back on the opposition.
In this case every team has adapted beautifully, and every team has a decent bowling attack. The grounds are big. The wickets are having a little bit in it for the fast bowlers up front. So, it’s evened out the contest beautifully.
I think it’s safe to say if the grounds are pretty decent, a lot many more teams and a lot many more cricketers will have to value and rely back on skill. This competition has kind of evened it out, I think.
On the Zimbabwe match
Simple: We need to be clinical, as clinical as possible. Like I said, we know no team is a push-over. You will have to still go in there, counter the early pace with the bat and still bowl good balls to be able to generate pressure.
Good teams will be clinical and will put the pressure on such days, and it’s a must-win contest. We know that. Like in every other contest in this T20 World Cup, it’s a must-win encounter.
So, we are looking forward to the game. Zimbabwe has played some wonderful cricket, so we can’t go in there and expect them to crumble. They bowled well and batted well, so we expect that.
Quotes courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020
With inputs from AFP