India's Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates after bowling Australia's Josh Hazlewood during play on day four of the second cricket test between India and Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)(AP)
India's Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates after bowling Australia's Josh Hazlewood during play on day four of the second cricket test between India and Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)(AP)

There were records that he never got out to spinners in Australia: Ashwin explains why he opted to compete against Smith

Ashwin proved instrumental in stopping Australia’s premier batsman Steve Smith during the first two Tests. He was Australia's best batsman and Ashwin negated his threat by constant variations.
By hindustantimes.com, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:57 PM IST

There has been one criticism surrounding Ravichandran Ashwin over the past few years and that has been his ability to perform in SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia) countries. Ashwin has been criticized by some of his peers in the past for not performing to the level expected of him during these tours. But Ashwin changed that narrative in the recently-concluded four-match Test series in Australia.

The India off-spinner proved instrumental in stopping Australia’s premier batsman Steve Smith during the first two Tests. Smith was regarded as Australia's best batsman and Ashwin negated his threat with constant variations. Smith even admitted that Ashwin started to dictate terms in Adelaide and Melbourne.

Ashwin opened up on his thoughts before the series and revealed how he opted to compete against Smith rather than a spinner in Nathan Lyon. He said that a lot of people did not even gave him a chance but he wanted to make sure that people talked about him after the series was finished.

“I feel I have been constantly put under the microscope. I did take it upon myself personally. So rather than me competing against Lyon, I thought I must be competing against Smith.

"Lyon is a lovely bowler and I have respect for him. But my focus was on something else. There were records that Smith had never got out to spinners in Australia. I wanted to turn that around. I am entitled to think I am probably the best in the world. I wanted to think on those lines. I thought 'who is the best in the series?' I can't compete with Virat Kohli so I decided to compete against Smith. A lot of people were talking about who will dismiss Smith. But, nobody even gave me a chance. Then, I made sure that people spoke about me at the end of the series,” Ashwin told The New Indian Express.

Ashwin ended up picking 12 wickets in the series. He was the fourth-highest wicket-taker even though he played only 3 Tests. Ashwin injured his back in the Sydney Test and had to miss out in Brisbane. Even though he was injured, Ashwin played match-saving innings of 39 to draw the match for India in Sydney.

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