SYDNEY: India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has underlined the importance of bowling well in partnerships, considering it is tougher to run through the opposition in Australia than South Africa and England.
Ashwin said India got good bowling practice in the sole warm-up ahead of the first Test beginning December 6 at Adelaide. Cricket Australia XI finished day three on 356-6 with Ashwin taking 1-63 from 24 overs and Mohammed Shami picking 3-67 from 18 overs.
"You don't turn up to Australia thinking wickets are going to seam or spin around. They are always going to be flat we know that. We cannot really complain and we have to put it behind us to try and go play some good cricket. Mostly the first innings are big scoring innings so we have to be aware to play some smart cricket through the series," he said on Friday.
Looking forward to the series, Ashwin said bowling in partnerships will be of paramount importance, especially since India will be missing a fifth bowler in injured Hardik Pandya.
"You have to stitch together partnerships even when bowling and it's very important to ascertain your role to get what you can out of the game. It obviously changes the dynamics for the captain when he goes out with one bowler less or one bowler more. But as a bowler personally it's still the same for me."
"As a spinner it's important to stick it out there in the first innings, if I get some help in the second innings then try to pitch in. That's similar to how I came here last time, I had a very good series and that was one of the turning points in my career."
Indian bowlers did well in England and South Africa but considering the nature of pitches, they are in a long haul.
"It's more about getting your noses ahead in Australia. Every hour, the game can get away from you really fast in the field. We have some quality batsmen who can take the game away from them.
"It's very important to soak together good partnerships as a bowling group then try and knock them over. You won't blow oppositions away – it might happen once in a while – but you have to get your noses ahead and keep it ahead," he said.
On his the bowling effort in the practice game, Ashwin said: "I thought the wicket was pretty flat. Initially we conceded a few runs with the new ball and then we realized what lengths we had to bowl and what sort of fields we need to keep.
"In practice matches, you are looking to get something out of it for yourself, and as a bowling group, when you go out there on the park. I think we got pretty much what we wanted to get out of it."
"I thought the ball came out pretty well (off my hand). I haven't played an international game for a while so it felt good the way it came out. In the next 4-5 days I will prep up a bit more for the game," he said.
Proceedings on Friday were overshadowed by an ankle injury suffered by young Prithvi Shaw, who landed awkwardly on his left leg whilst fielding early in the morning session, and has subsequently been ruled out of the first Test in Adelaide.
"He is feeling a bit sore and it has swollen up a little bit. Sad that it happened the first time he came out on the field. I hope he recovers fast. He has not spoken much. It has hit him pretty hard. He is a young boy who has come to play in Australia for the first time and had a dream start to his Test career, so this has hit him pretty hard."
"It's unfortunate what's happened, but these things happen. You must have heard these clichés before, but these things do happen and it's an opportunity for someone else. I believe everything happens for a reason,” said Ashwin.
Indian bowlers pulled back things in the second session when Shami and Umesh Yadav (1-81 in 22 overs) performed better with the older ball. Ishant Sharma (0-57) too bowled 16 overs.
The off-spinner will be in direct competition with Australia's Nathan Lyon. Ashwin said the duo cannot replicate each other's styles but will hope for an interesting duel with his counterpart.
"I also watch his videos. We started our Test careers at the same time so obviously mutual admiration is there. He has done well over the last couple years and he is bowling well. The ball is coming out well off his hand. What can I learn? Probably drop the ball at the right spots and probably as the series goes on look forward to a good competition."
He did not comment on the troubles in the Australian camp, and refused to acknowledge that India are the favourites going into this series.
"There are a lot of headaches when you play international cricket, personally and for the teams you are part of, so it makes no sense to try and get your heads into another dressing room. That's for them to mind their own cricket and it's important that when you go out there you compete really hard, make sure you are sticking to your plans and strengths," Ashwin said.
"The whole talk about India starting favourites, even when Australia came to India they were talking us up, and it looks like more of a strategy for us. I personally think you have to go one day at a time. It's never easy to come over to Australia and win series."
"In the Ashes they almost whitewashed England, knocked them over, and so as far as I'm concerned they are starting favourites. It's very important for us to chip away every single day, every single ball, and if we can get our noses ahead, stay ahead,” he signed off.
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