Bowlers are often an under-appreciated lot, but when their contributions are as blindingly obvious as they have been in Bangladesh, they cannot but be recognised. After Amit Mishra was declared man-of-the-match in India’s first two wins at the ICC World T20, it was R. Ashwin’s turn on Friday.
But shooting through his delight at the award was also a hint of resignation. “As much as a batsman is important, a bowler’s confidence is also important,” he said here on Saturday.
“Unless you appraise the bowler with something like that, you’ll never find good bowlers coming through. That is one thing I really believe in. In that regard, yes, it’s a big boost. But I’ve been living with it for the last three to four years, so I’m used to it right now.”
The off-spinner returned miserly figures of two for 15 from his four overs as India knocked Bangladesh aside.
After difficult tours of South Africa and New Zealand, Ashwin rediscovered his touch in the Asia Cup, form that has spilled over into the World T20. “It’s a bit of variation in pace more than anything else,” he said of the factors underlining his success here. “If you slow it down, you can get a bit of purchase. But there’s been a conscious effort to vary the pace, not just slow it down. I’ve been bowling at different paces — 100kmph to 80 to 75 — and trying to use the crease much more.”
Ashwin had no hesitation in stating that his approach at the death was primarily defensive. “It’s about swallowing your ego and trying to make sure you’re not giving runs away,” he said.
“There are people around who want to pick wickets at that time. But for me, it’s about swallowing my ego and handling the situation pretty well.”
The Tamil Nadu bowler offered an interesting response when asked about the Sunil Narine-style action he unveiled at the Asia Cup. “I’d never bowled in full-sleeves before,” he said. “So, I wanted to see how it would feel. And I just wanted to see if you can get more revolutions on the ball if you can do a little bit with your elbow.
“That’s what it was all about. You can get a big advantage with these things — so why should I lag behind if someone else is getting a competitive edge?”
It is a remark that could be interpreted in multiple ways. Temporarily at least, Ashwin has shelved the action, although he did not rule out using it in future.