12/07/2022
The unusually cold weather in Australia during the ICC T20 World Cup 2022 have forced the teams and players to revisit their strategy and India spinner R Ashwin says it is tough to make any concrete plans.

India’s veteran off-spinner R Ashwin too agreed on it that the Australian conditions have taken him by surprise but has not really upended his plans or preparation for the tournament.

Q. Earlier you have come to Australia. What did you expect coming in in terms of what you will get condition-wise and affecting you in terms of your bowling?

Ashwin: “I thought my entire sunscreen will be used. 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.

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, etc?

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. So, the demands of the game, what the situation is and what you have to deliver for the team is exactly what adaptations call.”

Q. Today is Virat’s birthday, so was there any special celebration today?

Ashwin: Yeah, we got a cake. Rishabh had it. Just before we came for practice, yes.

Q. Since day one you’ve been practicing a lot against the short ball. Like, even with the throw down specialists, they have been serving you those underarm deliveries. Would you say that made a difference? Was this a conscious effort that you were planning — that you had a plan to take on the short ball?

Ashwin: “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 order 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.”

Q. How much are you a believer in matchups? It seems to be a big thing in T20 crickets these days and data analysts and things like that.

Ashwin: “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.”

Q. The weather, the conditions, the early season pitches, have they altered the game plan for the spinners? Would they have to bowl differently in these conditions?

Ashwin: “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.

Q. The fielding has not been up to the mark at times, is there something extra that you are doing in that regard?

Ashwin: “Look, hard work and practice, catching high balls, flat balls, all the ground feeling. 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.

Q. There has been talk about the bowlers’ run out. Do your thoughts about the dismissal changed

Ashwin: I also wouldn’t like to get out like that 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 any way. 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 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.

Q. There have been lots of upsets in this tournament but many people feel tomorrow’s game is going to be straight forward for you. How are you looking forward to it?

Ashwin: “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.”