‘Bowling connects me to my inner self’: R. Ashwin

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He leaves one landmark behind and stares at another. Spin ace R. Ashwin, though, is not concerned about the numbers as he revealed in an exclusive chat with The Hindu.

You have been focusing a lot more on your off-spin these days. You seem to have put fitness concerns behind

I have always focussed on off-spin, got 80 to 90% of wickets with it. I have dismissed a lot of right-handers.

I am fit and the ball is coming out from the hand like a dream. I am not thinking too much technically. I ran into some very good batting form too at county cricket but have lately not received too many opportunities for India.

You went past 350 Test wickets recently. Are you conscious of the approaching landmarks?

Not at all. I am just enjoying my bowling. I am like a 10-year-old when I have the ball in my hands. Nothing gives me greater joy. Bowling is like therapy to me. It connects me to my inner self. I am not the same person I was. I am not as intense as before. I just want to bring the joy back.

On pitches that were not turners, you were the highest wicket-taker, with 15, among both sides in the recent India-South Africa Test series

I don’t complain about pitches, nor do I depend on them. A lot of times we play on green-tops in county cricket. You adapt.

The manner you use your crease in the South Africa series, both over and round the wicket, impressed many

I have been criticised for it too. Some say I try too many things. For me, if it gives me an extra opportunity to get a wicket, I will go for it.

This Indian team has taken the pitch out of the equation with the options in its attack.

We have a very good bunch of pacemen. Then we have the spinners. We have a complete attack and we put runs on the board. It is never about one individual.

India has a Test series in New Zealand coming up early next year

New Zealand is a very good side in any format. We will have to play our best cricket there.

Virat Kohli has said Test wins abroad should be worth double the points in World Test championship

It is more challenging to win in somebody else’s home, gives you more satisfaction. Virat has a point.

Your time under Virat and coach Ravi Shastri and the atmosphere in the team

Virat has led from the front. He has captained India to so many series wins. He deserves credit. Whenever I have had a conversation with Shastri, he comes up with something useful. With the team winning so much, the atmosphere within has to be good.

Were you surprised at the lack of fight from the Proteas?

South Africa has always been a proud cricketing nation. Sometimes you have to look at what we did well, we were exceptional in every department, than what went wrong with the other side.

Are you still hopeful about your white ball career for India. There are two Twenty20 World Championships coming up

I consider myself one of the best, if not the best spinner in Twenty20 cricket. I had a very good IPL last year. I don’t think age is a factor. Imran Tahir is 40. I have the variety and the experience. My hopes are alive.

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