In India's three-wicket nail-biting victory over Bangladesh at Dhaka on Sunday, Ravichandran Ashwin was solid in defence and brought out a slew of boundaries at the end to be 42 not out in successfully taking the visitors over the line.
India were in a spot of bother at 74/7. But Ashwin stitched a gritty 71-run unbeaten partnership with Shreyas Iyer to secure a 2-0 series sweep before lunch on day four.In a video conversation with Cheteshwar Pujara on bcci.tv, Ashwin explained how he went through that turbulent phase to get India a victory from the jaws of defeat.
"When I walked out, I thought we have to grind through the situation a little bit as we didn't have much batters behind. Usually, when I go out, I feel I have three more batters behind and can stitch up a partnership even if the batter gets out.
I thought Shreyas showed really good composure and felt very calm." "I just told him to get it done within ten overs or after lunch. My aim was to initially get through the lunch, but a couple of balls went here and there, and there was a catch which went to the short leg (and was dropped).
I thought maybe I need to push up some intent and still have a good defence. We played it well and also pushed the accelerator button at the right time." When Pujara quizzed him about his defensive batting skills, Ashwin said, "Quite possibly, I still would like to think I rate my defence pretty strongly, even if it can look a little iffy at times.
I think Test matches are played and built around defence and as a batter I'm talking to a man who builds his game around defence." In Reply, Pujara nodded his head, and smilingly said, "I completely agree."
Further elaborating on the work he's done on improving his batting skills, Ashwin stated batting in Test cricket is about picking the right moments and playing the situations properly. "It is very easy to go into a situation under pressure.
Modern-day cricket tells you to take the aerial route. I don't think it is the right way to go because two bowlers are bowling and building pressure, you can't do it and get away with every single time."
"It looks great when it comes off. People want entertainment and all that is fine, but Test match cricket under pressure needs to be played with a steely defence. I have played a lot more shots and a lot more confident of clearing the field with ease, worked a lot more on my backlift, pace and power hitting."
"I always felt I had some batting ability in me, but I felt along with power-hitting, I used to keep telling a lot of people that when asked about white-ball batting, I used to get ahead of the situation a little bit. If I used to hit, I wanted to do that on every single ball."
"But I understand a little bit better with what comes in respect to batting - stay in the moment, pick your right moments, right ball and at the end of the day, bat and ball will remain the same, cricketers from both teams will remain the same. Only it is about picking crucial situations and playing it properly."