Ravichandran Ashwin has pinpointed a precise and perhaps surprising moment that he believes will be the turning point in India’s path to the ICC World Test Championship final.
Indian spinner Ashwin is a man of many words when in the mood and the 36-year-old was in fine form when he spoke to the ICC ahead of the upcoming clash with Australia.
Both entertaining and erudite, Ashwin discussed a range of topics and revealed a particular behind-the-scenes moment as his personal highlight in the last two years of Test cricket.
“We had our moments in this last cycle, especially where we got out a few times and held tight,” said the top-ranked Test bowler.
“The WTC moment, I don’t know whatever happens in this game, will be Rahul (Dravid) bhai’s speech after the Bangladesh Test we played in Mirpur.
“I think we were going to be out of the WTC race in that particular test, so we finished the game and I came out and was really excited and we didn’t expect… nobody expected us to win. , even inside the dressing room.
“It was a great game of cricket and the Ashes, we never doubted it,” Rahul said.
“That’s probably the WTC cycle moment for me.”
Ashwin came to the crease with India struggling at 74/7 in the second Test in December 2022, needing 71 runs to win.
But while Shreyas Iyer held the fort at one end with 29* off 46 balls, Ashwin led India to victory with an unbeaten 42* off 62 balls. .
“Like he said, we went through the ride but we never doubted,” Ashwin said.
“I think we really dominated last cycle and got into the finals. We’ve had our ups and downs this time, and that’s why I think this particular game will be lucky number two for us.
The World Test Championship is in its relative infancy, with the tournament barely four years into its life after almost two full cycles.
Players and coaches are beginning to familiarize themselves with the ebb and flow of the event, noting the patterns of when the WTC is front and center for a team’s goals.
“It’s somewhere in the back of your mind when you start the cycle and when you get to the end of the point it starts to become front and centre,” India coach Dravid said at The Oval two days after the start of the WTC final.
“When you get to the last few games in a series, you can see the conversations around — ‘OK, what do we need to qualify?’ Where are the other teams?
Inspired by Ashwin and Dravid’s kind words ringing in their ears, India ran out 2-0 series winners to put Bangladesh back in control of their WTC destiny.
They now have a chance to right the wrongs in 2021, when they succumbed to New Zealand in a wet and wild Southampton in the first edition of the WTC final.
Ashwin hopes that India will be better prepared this time after their experiences in 2021.
“England will be cold! That’s the learning from that game – it was cold, it was freezing,” laughed Ashwin in an interview with Sanjana Ganesan for ICC.
“But I don’t think you can go back, I mean you can’t even go back to the last series you played, it’s back in the pecking order in terms of how long it was for us. Played the game before.
“After this we played a Test series against England. We came back and finished the fifth Test against them at Edgbaston. So we have some experience in England, as Australia would have done through the Ashes. I think we know what to expect.”
“The Oval is a little bit different to some of the other tough venues in England in terms of lateral movement,” Ashwin said.
“So I think we’re well prepared. I’m sure there’s nerves on both sides, so the team that’s going to take advantage of the other person’s early nerves is going to come out better.”
It remains to be seen whether Ashwin will be part of the XI that will try to capitalize on any Australian nerves, and one of the big selection decisions will be whether to include an extra seamer or go with the dual spin attack of Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
With an oval pitch traditionally less favorable to swing than some English grounds, and a tendency to turn on the fourth and fifth days – often when Tests are played at the end of the English summer – Ashwin is expected to get a chance. With a similar performance in the middle to follow his excellent form behind the microphone.
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