Antigua, July 23 Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who scored his career’s third century on day two of the first Test against the West Indies, thanked Test skipper Virat Kohli and new coach Anil Kumble for promoting him to No.6 ahead of stumper Wriddhiman Saha.
Ashwin, who hit a 253-ball 113 along with Kohli’s (200) maiden double ton to guide India to a mammoth 566-8 declared on Friday, said it was his long time desire to bat in the top seven, which got the backing of Kohli and Kumble.
“I’ve always wanted to bat in the top seven for the Indian team, which is a long-time goal that I have to try to strive to get better at,” Ashwin, who forged a 168-run stand for the fifth wicket with Kohli, said after the second day’s play at the Sir Viv Richards stadium here.
“I need to thank (Anil) Kumble and Virat for having the confidence in me to be pushed at number six. There have been times in the past when I’ve played really well and haven’t really got the promotion. This really says a whole lot of things about me.
“Kohli called me in the morning and said ‘you’ll be batting at six, ahead of Saha’, which is a big boost to my batting confidence. I had worked on it over the past one month in Chennai with my coach and I’m very happy with the way it’s come out,” he added.
The Chennai tweaker also disclosed how batting coach Sanjay Bangar worked on improving his stance and other minute technicalities.
“First things first, (Sanjay) Bangar worked really closely with my stance for the last 12 months. It has been a challenge. I used to be extra side-on and I had to open myself a little bit. That change is very effective. I’ve not driven straight down the ground for a very long time. That is a pretty evident one.
“The other things like my initial movement had to be sorted. It was a process for like 10-12 months, and on the way I did lose a few innings as a batsman as well. I’ve never left so many balls. (Ajinkya) Rahane told before the Test match about batting 200 balls, my aim was to bat 150 balls and try and see where I get,” he explained.
Friday’s century was his third against the same opponents and when enquired if he liked batting against the Caribbean side, he said: “That’s because I’ve got more time to bat against them. Whenever I’ve gone in, I’ve had a batsman to play with. All the times I made a hundred. Once, I had Rohit, and then I had Virat and again Virat now. That’s an important factor for a batsman lower down to get a hundred.
“And obviously, this game I batted at six so that gave me ample time to try and play it out. Yes, I have got runs against West Indies, and if you start getting a liking towards a team, you have that inside factor, which tells you that you can do it again.”
In reply the hosts were 31-1 at stumps but Ashwin feels the West Indians will pose a challenge on day three and the Indians will have to toil hard to bundle them out.
“I think it’s a good batting wicket and you’ll have to earn every wicket. You’ll have to prise them out. Kraigg Brathwaite and the likes of Darren Bravo…they bat pretty deep as well. We’ll have to prise each and every wicket and see if we can actually go the distance and maintain the intensity for every hour,” he said.