Ashwin shares insights on England’s Bazball phenomena

Bengaluru, (UNI) Expressing his thoughts on the Bazball phenomenon, Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin emphasized the importance of adapting to new strategies and techniques, indicating an openness to incorporating elements from the evolving landscape of cricket.

Reflecting on his pivotal spell in the second Test at Visakhapatnam, Ashwin highlighted the significance of his performance in turning the tide of the match in India’s favour. His contributions played a crucial role in India’s resurgence after the initial setback in Hyderabad.

The initial 28-run defeat in the first Test match at Hyderabad showcased England’s new-age approach to Test cricket under their head coach Brendon McCullum.

India’s dominant performance in the series, however, raised questions about England’s strategy, indicating that India had successfully countered the approaches employed by the visiting team.

Ashwin also highlighted the need for India to adapt to the Bazball challenge and suggested thinking differently and employing alternative strategies to counter it.

“There were many times in this series when I thought, if this was against Australia instead of England, we could have seen two draws instead of results,’ the spinner said.

“At least one, because of the flatter cricket pitches… But because of this new English approach, they put us under pressure in several Tests.

“The pressure was because – them playing three sessions could be equal to us playing five-six sessions in terms of runs scored, and so every match was bound to go for a result,” he said.

“So it was always on my mind that we would have to try something different,” he said in his latest YouTube video.

The Hyderabad Test was Ashwin’s first against England since they adopted the Bazball tactics nearly two years ago.

Throwing more light on Bazball cricket as he understood, Ashwin said it prioritizes aggressive batting over defensive play, and even players known for their defensive capabilities like Joe Root are adapting to this strategy.

“The one thing that I understood after the first Test is that Bazball isn’t just aggressive cricket,” he said. “It is defenseless cricket.

“They aren’t going to play a defensive shot at all. They are going to get out if they play defense. To my surprise, Joe Root also agreed to their game plan. Because if you take world cricket’s best defense rankings, Joe Root is an easy No.1 on that list against spin. He also bought into their approach.”

England were chasing a target of 398 in the second Test in Visakhapatnam when Ashwin chipped in with three wickets to set up India’s victory.

Ashwin mentioned that he backed himself to bowl accurately, targeting the stumps and credited Kona Bharat for taking a crucial catch, which boosted the team’s morale.

He also recalled a catch taken by Wriddhiman Saha in a previous match against Matthew Wade in 2017.

“I backed myself to bowl at the stumps, and at the right time, Kona [Srikar] Bharat took a catch, just like [Wriddhiman] Saha took the catch of Matthew Wade in the Bangalore Test [in 2017].

The next morning, Ashwin said he managed to dismiss Root and Ollie Pope, which he considered one of the best spells of his career.

He also mentioned Tom Hartley as a potential victim for his 500th wicket, but a review decision went against him.

Ashwin expressed frustration over a missed opportunity for a five-wicket haul, but still regarded his performance highly, despite taking only three wickets. James Anderson’s slip catch also played a role in Ashwin’s performance during that match, he said.

“After that, positive vibes surrounded the place. The next morning, I was able to knock over Joe Root and Ollie Pope. One of the crucial morning spells and one of the best spells I’ve bowled in my life so far.

“Tom Hartley was my potential 500th wicket, but then the review got turned down. And James Anderson with the glove again, the ball flew over the slip. Some things are meant to be, and some things are not. I could have gotten five there, but all I could was three, but still one of the outstanding spells I’ve bowled, in my opinion,” he said.

The spin maestro finished the series as the top wicket-taker with 26 scalps in 10 innings, averaging 24.80 which included two five-wicket hauls in Ranchi, and Dharamsala, where he played his 100th Test.

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