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India vs England 2016: Ravichandran Ashwin looking forward to duel with Alastair Cook

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Tamil Nadu off-spinner sets the tone for a blockbuster series.

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ashwin has had fascinating contests with his opposition’s premier batsmen

Among the things to look forward to when India plays a Test series is the engrossing battle between Ravichandran Ashwin and the opposition’s leading batsmen. The wily off-spinner has got the better of quite a few stalwarts such as Kumar Sangakkara, AB de Villiers and Kane Williamson in the recent past. With England now in his sights, he remains hungry to test his skills against the best in the business.

In a free-wheeling chat with India Today, the 30-year old admitted to the pre-series hype surrounding the duel between him and the visiting skipper Alastair Cook whilst expressing his eagerness to not take the rest of their batting lineup lightly.

“Looking forward to the contest”

When asked about his impending tussle with Cook, Ashwin quipped, “You need people to follow the game so you need build-ups like that (laughs). I am going to look forward to this contest between me and Cook and the entire English team.“

He continued, “It's about trying to figure out what plans they bring to the table more than me planning anything for them because they are going to come in with a purpose and a plan to try and dissect how we play cricket in the sub-continent. And it's all about waiting to see what they throw at us and try and deflect their plans accordingly.

“As far as England is concerned, I think it's going to be a great series. We played on some excellent wickets against New Zealand. It's going to be very, very important how well they are going to match them spade to spade all through this five-Test series. England are a good team we all saw what they did in Bangladesh so I think it's going to be a very, very good Test series,” Ashwin went on to add.

Modified length to combat Williamson’s movement

During the recently completed Test series against the Kiwis, Ashwin shed light into his thought-process when bowling to Williamson. Taking note of the New Zealand captain’s habit of lunging forward on spin-friendly pitches, he pulled his length back in order to capitalise on the trigger movement. Usually domineering against southpaws, the Tamil Nadu all-rounder raised his game against right-handers as well which in turn has made him into a seemingly unstoppable menace.

Currently ranked number one in the world, he is gunning for a fifth consecutive Player of the Series award. With England entering into the eagerly anticipated series after losing the second Test against Bangladesh at Dhaka, the off-spinner’s rich vein of form should continue in all probability.

However, Ashwin insisted, “I find myself in that zone and in that space where I'm actually enjoying my bowling. In the sense that every spell of my bowling, I am trying to get a batsman out or trying to change, it is not like I want to win the game you know. I'm not looking to win the Test directly which has happened in the past. Go into a Test and look to defeat them which is also a part of the learning curve.”

The first Test between India and England is slated to begin at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Wednesday.


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