On a day when the seamers failed to make much of a dent on an easy-paced wicket, R Ashwin took 3-90 as South Africa finished day one at 269/6 at stumps on the first day of the second Test at Centurion. The spinner said he hoped his three-wicket haul on day one was enough to keep India afloat.
“I like to think I have kept us in the game. It could have so easily been a game where they could have run away with it after the second session. I like to believe I was just dogged enough,” Ashwin said after the day’s play on Saturday.
Ashwin had been subject to a lot of criticism in the past on account of his overseas record. He had gone wicket-less in the Johannesburg Test in 2013, as India had failed to win from an advantageous position on day five.
“It was a reality check in terms of not being able to win a Test match for the country on day five when all things were actually set up for a spinner. It was kind of hit on my professional pride and from there on I knew I had to work on certain things,” he said.
“Obviously when you don’t take wickets you don’t get bull headed and believe things will get better from next time. I am not made that way at least,” said Ashwin, about his previous South Africa tour.
The spinner also said that he has moved on from the last tour and is hoping to emerge as a better bowler after this series ends. Additionally, he credited the county stint with Worcestershire for aiding him in this process.
“The one thing I have comfortably done is to conveniently forget the history about South Africa. I am well over it and I want to put it behind me and stride ahead forward,” he said.
“I think my experience of going to England and playing helped because this has been a sort of wicket which you get there especially where I played, at New Road, where it’s pretty flat. One ball jumps occasionally and goes flat for a pretty long time. My first-class teammates would advice that I have to develop a lot of patience and hearing those things from them was definitely a reality check for me. I have gone through a massive ride over the last eight months and I am in phase of life where I really want to enjoy my cricket,” he added.
“I worked on making my action a lot more repeatable and I worked on the wrist position at time of release. I also added a few things up my repertoire and used my wrist a lot more when I bowl,” he said.
“I used my palm more when I bowl the flipper, etc. Obviously these things have combined over the last few years and I have had a great time over the last 2-3 years. I am just taking the confidence forward and I am trying to get better as the day goes and by the end of this series I will be a far better bowler than what I started,” he added.
Ashwin said the team management had even thought of going with an all-seam attack at one stage.
“Two days from the game it looked like we are going to play an all-seam attack. And then when we walked into the ground yesterday, it was white in colour and the grass was coming off. All of a sudden I really had to pull myself back and think I am in the game now. Today morning when we came to the ground, it looked like a wicket that was really flat and had to have a spinner in the game,” he said.
South Africa were comfortably placed at 246/3 at one stage. Ashwin bowled a long spell during the first two sessions, and kept India in contention, before Hardik Pandya’s spell changed everything, during which he affected two run-outs. Ashwin then got rid of Quinton de Kock for a golden duck.
“I think this was a good last session for us. Because I feel those wickets two run outs, which were extraordinary work by Hardik and bit of luck for us in the last session are very valid incentive for the team going into day two,” he concluded.
With inputs from PTI