Ashwin attributes his success to "a small thing about body position"

Articulate, no-nonsense, confident and, at times, curt. That, pretty much, sums up R. Ashwin’s manner.

However, on Friday, after close of play on day one of the first Test between India and Australia, Ashwin waxed poetic in describing the experience of playing his maiden Test match in the city.

“I've played plenty of IPL games here, three or four ODIs, and an international Twenty20 too. But all that comes nowhere close to Test matches,” he gushed.

“For the last two days, I couldn’t connect with what was happening. I was in complete awe, smiling all through. I feel the air talks to me. The ground looked picturesque. I’ve never seen Chepauk greener or more beautiful. Even if it turns out to be my last Test match, this will remain the happiest moment of my life,” said the tall off-spinner, who bagged six of the seven wickets that fell.

He also admitted that the thought of doing a perfect ten, a la Anil Kumble, crossed his mind. “I’d be lying if I said no. The way things were going since the morning, I thought it’s a real possibility here. But I had an injury on my finger and had to go off the field. That took the momentum out a bit,” he said.

Turnaround in fortunes

The 26-year-old emphasised that he didn’t do anything different from the England series. “I honestly think I didn’t have a bad series against England. I bowled exactly the same way as I had bowled against England. But, today, the wickets were coming.

“I would like to dedicate this spell to my coach Sunil Subramaniam, because he identified a small thing about body position and we worked on it for five-six sessions in between the (BCCI) Corporate Trophy and this series,” he revealed.

He noted that the pitch didn’t offer as much turn as it was made out to do.

“The pitch looked very dirty. After the first 5-10 overs, we thought it was going to spin like a top. It got better with time. There were a few balls which, when tossed up, jumped a little. I think this is the same square on which Karnataka and Tamil Nadu played a 1,000-run game in the Ranji Trophy. I think it’s going to get slower. Reverse swing isn’t a big factor here as it bounces,” he said.

Regarding Michael Clarke not being given out on 39, he said it was part of the game.

What if the DRS has been in place?

“What if we’d gone for DRS and didn’t have another review left?” he shot back.

‘Game in balance’

Earlier, Moises Henriques, who scored a battling 68 on debut, said the game was “very much in the balance”.

“I think the first hour tomorrow is going to be very important. Hopefully, Michael can continue on his amazing form. Having someone leading the way like he did is very calming,” he said.

The 26-year-old, in contrast to Ashwin, said it got tougher to bat on the wicket.

“The footmarks and the loose soil made it look like a third day wicket,” he said.

“The Indians were disciplined, particulary Ashwin who bowled a good length. It’s difficult to step out to him and smother the spin,” he said.

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