India’s star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Monday lauded the team’s bowling unit, specially the pace duo of Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah for putting in their best efforts at the start and at the end of a bowling innings in recent times.
The 36-year old Nehra, and 22-year-old Bumrah have swung the ball in the powerplays and then peppered the batsmen later in the innings with yorkers.
After two back-to-back Twenty20 International series victories against Australia and Sri Lanka recently, the 2007 World T20 champions have got their Asia Cup campaign on a good start, defeating hosts Bangladesh by 45 runs in the opener and following it up with a thumping five-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan on Saturday.
This is the first time the iconic tournament is being played in the Twenty20 format. All the earlier events were One-Day International (ODI) editions.
“Our death bowling could definitely be much better than what it was in the past so that gives a lot of confidence and we can go about our middle overs with a lot more attacking instinct, to try and pick up wickets to seal things off. That’s definitely a positive, but at the end of the day, only I can help myself,” Ashwin said at the pre-match press conference ahead of their clash against Sri Lanka at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium here on Tuesday.
“I think it’s very good if you can punch as a group and especially Ashish — we all know that he is a very experienced candidate. He has come in on the back of a very good India Premier League (IPL) last year, so we know exactly what his strengths are. He can swing the ball up front and has good abilities to bowl at the death.”
“Bumrah has got a unique action and he has done very well in the IPL for the last couple of years. He can bowl those lethal yorkers again, which we might have been missing in the past few years so that’s definitely given us an extra sting,” Ashwin added.
The Asia Cup will be followed by World T20 in India in March-April and India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni criticised the nature of Bangladesh pitches in the ongoing Asia Cup to be too bowlers’ friendly.
But Ashwin thinks the other way. He believes teams should adapt to conditions rather than fighting them.
“We came thinking that the wickets will be slow but international teams need to adapt to whatever surfaces are thrown at them. It is very important to know what conditions are thrown at you. You can’t try and beat the conditions.”
“It is very important to go back and understand that it will not spin a lot on these surfaces. That’s why it is even more imperative that we try to bowl in good lengths, get away with our overs rather than looking to go for wickets,” he said.
“In T20 format, it is the pressure that gives you wickets rather than exact skill of the ball. That’s what I look to do and when there is any window to attack I will attack irrespective of the wicket. It’s T20 cricket, we might have slower wicket, flatter wickets in World T20. We have to understand situation rather than complaining about it. Testing ourselves in various environments is good for us,” the 29-year-old remarked.
In their last match against Pakistan, the Indian batting faced a top order collapse, thanks to superb bowling by fast bowler Mohammad Amir. But Virat Kohli scored 49 in difficult conditions to steer India to victory.
Speaking on Kohli’s innings, Ashwin said, “We needed someone to stick his head out as Amir was going through a really good spell. We needed someone to show intent. Virat showed that intent while defending as well as attacking, which gave the dressing room a lot of comfort. Obviously, we knew that with a 20-30 run stand, the match will be over as it was not a huge score. From that perspective, Virat showed a lot of guts and courage and that was very encouraging.”