Ashwin went back to club coach to excel as a batsman in West Indies | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Ashwin went back to club coach to excel as a batsman in West Indies

To be considered to bat in the top-six would have required some preparation. In the break between the Indian Premier League and the West Indies tour, Ashwin worked with his club coach G Jayakumar to iron out his batting flaws.

cricket Updated: Jul 29, 2016 11:31 IST
Harit N Joshi
R Ashwin scored a century against West Indies in Antigua last week.
R Ashwin scored a century against West Indies in Antigua last week. (HT Photo)

When skipper Virat Kohli told Ravichandran Ashwin that he will be batting at No 6 — ahead of wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha — a night before the first Test against the West Indies, it was an opportunity the off-spinner wouldn’t have wanted to waste.

This was the first time Ashwin was promoted in the batting order despite having two Test centuries to his credit — both against West Indies and at No 8 position.

Although Kohli was batting with supreme control at the other hand, it was an important passage of play when Ashwin walked into bat. West Indies had just broken a 57-run fourth-wicket stand between Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane with the score reading 236 for four.

Ashwin’s wicket would have been crucial for the hosts to put pressure on the Indian line-up. The off-spinner, however, dented West Indies’ hopes with a solid century.

Under Kohli’s wing, Ashwin built his innings brick-by-brick. Kohli departed after a fabulous double hundred, but Ashwin continued building crucial partnerships with the tailenders as the visitors posted a mammoth 566 for eight declared.

Ironing out flaws

To be considered to bat in the top-six would have required some preparation. In the break between the Indian Premier League and the West Indies tour, Ashwin worked with his club coach G Jayakumar to iron out his batting flaws.

“We didn’t want to complicate too much. In sport, everything is an outcome of how strong your basics are. Sometimes in a clutter of thoughts we tend to miss some simple things that make us better,” Jayakumar told HT from Chennai.

Ashwin called up Jayakumar, who is also the coach of Murali Vijay, to help him in his batting. They would practice for nearly two to three hours every day for a month at the Chemplast ground.

“We worked on his basic set-up — that is his stance, grip and back lift. I just did some fine-tuning to his batting. We created match simulations in the nets with different situations. Although there isn’t much difference between sub-continent and Caribbean conditions, we created as much similarity as possible during the practice,” Jayakumar said.

“International cricketers are fast learners. It was important to retain his natural style. I am delighted our efforts have paid off. All credit should go to Ashwin. It’s his hard work and dedication,” Jayakumar added.

Ashwin’s first coach Sunil Subramaniam was pleased to see his ward shinning with the ball and bat. “Ashwin always had the potential to bat well. He started as a batsman first before turning into an off-spinner. He is a genuine all-rounder. I am surprised it took him so much time. He deserved this promotion (in the batting order) much earlier. Nonetheless, this knock will do a lot of good to his confidence,” Subramaniam said.

The hosts caved in under pressure as Ashwin’s 7-83 helped India register their biggest Test win outside Asia — by an innings and 92 runs victory.