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Update Away from India, passages of play need to go your way: Ashwin

An imaginary asterisk mysteriously appears on an Indian spinner's career statistics graphic everytime he stands atop his run-up at the start of an overseas Test. How balanced or skewed is the break-up viz. home and away Tests. Ravichandran Ashwin, for all of his 369 wickets at an average of 25.30, isn't immune to this cynical eye.

Now on his fourth tour of Australia, Ashwin's role in the team as the sole spinner was going to be critical given it was around his control that the three quicks would rotate. That India were skittled out cheaply for 244 early on Day 2 was also significant. The 34-year-old lived up to his billing as a premier Test match spinner, his figures of 4 for 55 helping India eke out a 53-run lead on a dominant bowling day.

Understandably, there were comparisons to his off-spinning counterpart Nathan Lyon, who'd used overspin to great effect on the opening day. Ashwin, on the other hand, played with drift, dip and subtle changes of pace. "At times things can get blown out of context on how one approaches their trade," Ashwin opined. "Even in this particular Test, Nathan and I bowl very differently. We are different bowlers and successful in our own way. For me it's not so much about the trajectory. It's about trying and changing it up and trying to making it difficult for the batsman to be able to defend or score.

"When you are playing abroad, my mindset is to just hold one end up and allow the captain to rotate fast bowlers from the other end. I also go for wickets if there is enough assistance or enough early wickets. For me it's all about making it as difficult as possible for the batsman."

Ashwin, however, pointed out asking players to replicate one another in specific conditions was unfair. "Nobody asks batsmen to go and watch how Steve Smith bats and replicate that all the time when we tour Australia. Nobody does that to Alastair Cook or Joe Root the way they play. We are all aware that everybody skins a cat very, very differently. You can learn, there's no stoppage to what you learn from people. You can always learn all the finer things, how they go about their business, how they set their fields, the passage of play.

"I've always maintained this, especially when you travel and play abroad away from India, the passages of play need to go your way as a spinner because you are doing a twin are doing it against the conditions. As far I'm concerned, I keep watching and see if I can learn and prepare thoroughly for a batsman and put in the earnest effort. That's all one can do."

Ashwin refused to classify his Day 2 performance among his long list of achievements in the game but did relish an important moment from the day's play when he came trumps in a pitched battle with the No.1 Test batsman, Steve Smith. After tossing up a delivery to the Australian No. 4, he pushed the next one through and had him caught at slip at an important juncture in the second session. "With regards to the wicket of Steve Smith, obviously it's a big wicket. You know how much time he bats. In the context of the game, and where it was placed, I felt it was a really important wicket so I really enjoyed it.

"In the last two years, if people don't reflect on two or three not so great performances, I've had decent outings every time I've played overseas. Like I said, things can get blown out of context. I've put those things in the backyard. I've learnt from it and as far as I am concerned, I've learnt to enjoy my trade and I want to have as much fun as I can. I don't want to sit back and think if it's the best or not. There is an innings to go and I am looking forward to it," said Ashwin.


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