Centurion: R Ashwin said failure to deliver for his team in the past hit his pride and hoped his three- wicket haul on day one was enough to keep India afloat in the second Test against South Africa here.
On a day when the seamers failed to make much of a dent on a easy-paced wicket, Ashwin took 3-90 as the hosts finished day one at 269 for 6 at stumps.
“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.
“I play (only) Test cricket now and I get a lot of break in between. So might as well be ready when I get an opportunity. So, there is no reason to unfasten the seat belt, you are always on,” he said, about his preparation for the tour, after not featuring for India in limited-overs’ cricket since July.
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.
Ashwin said he worked on his bowling and hoped to emerge as a better bowler after this series.
“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.
Additionally, he credited the county stint with Worcestershire for aiding him in this process.
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,” 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.
There was hardly anything for the fast bowlers at all. If at all there was something, we were trying to get some reverse swing going and try and probably get a few catches in front of the wicket.
“Within my mind, this was probably one of the relaxed days of my cricket career. I wasn’t really thinking too much and delivering the ball. My only intent was to try and keep it in a particular spot. Try and deliver from different positions in the crease, and I was really enjoying it,” he added.
Then, Hardik Pandya’s spell changed everything, during which he affected two run-outs while Ashwin got rid of Quinton de Kock for a golden duck.