In an amusing revelation, Ravichandran Ashwin has talked about how Team India head coach Ravi Shastri helped him dismiss Steve Smith in Melbourne. On Boxing Day, Shastri had advised Ashwin to get into the attack early and extract purchase from the damp pitch.
After winning the toss, Australia decided to bat first on the traditional batting-friendly pitch at the MCG. However, their ambitions of a big score were thwarted by Ravichandran Ashwin. The off-spinner came to bowl in the 12th over and enticed Matthew Wade into playing a false stroke.
Soon after, he got Steve Smith caught for a duck with a ball that turned from middle-stump and took the edge to the leg slip, placed specifically for the plan. In an impromptu chat with Team India fielding coach R Sridhar, Ashwin talked about Ravi Shastri's advice to him.
"After we lost the toss, Shastri came to me and went "Ashhhh". I was wearing my pant and suddenly taken aback! I said yes Ravi bhai. He roared in typical style 'get the ball in the first 10 overs'. I was like get the ball in the first 10 overs in Melbourne? He said 'I've told Jinx, it's damp and might spin'. As he said, I got the ball early... and the ball spun immediately. I was like wow, what's happening!" said Ashwin.
Ravichandran Ashwin had Steve Smith's number in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. He got the wicket of the Aussie talisman thrice in the three games they faced each other.
Ravi Shastri told R Sridhar that Ravichandran Ashwin has the mental edge over Steve Smith
R Sridhar revealed the mood in the dugout when Ravichandran Ashwin came to bowl against Steve Smith.
"We were sitting in the coaches' box. The three of us were sitting with Hari, the analyst. Ravi bhai came in and thundered 'I have told Jinks to bring Ash on early. He has the mental edge over Smith. The ball will surely do something. It's a red ball, not a pink ball. I'm waiting. I want to see him bowl inside the 40th minute'. And he was clapping furiously," said Sridhar.
The Indian fielding coach further added:
"And then when you (Ashwin) got the ball in your hand, the bowling coach was super excited. He was like, 'Something is going to happen now'. Ashwin's first ball itself fizzed and bounced; my heart was beating fast."
Courtesy of Ravichandran Ashwin and the team management's meticulous planning and shrewd tactics, India managed to keep Steve Smith quiet for most of the series. In the four Tests, the right-handed batsman could only make 313 runs, most of which came in the drawn Syndey Test.