In-form offie, R Ashwin says he's ready to fight fire with fire and is prepared to get under the Aussie skin
Ousted India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh had popularly garnered the reputation of someone with 'the ability to get under Aussie skins'. In that regard, Harbhajan's replacement, R Ashwin has massive boots to fill during the upcoming four-Test series against the archrivals. Steve Waugh and Adam Gilchrist reckon India would miss Harbhajan's aggression during the high-voltage summer. But, Ashwin is no saint. Make no mistake. He feeds off a jeer or two, is craving for it.
Traditionally, Australia could prove to be an intimidating place for a first-time visitor. The crowds are known to mock a player fielding close to the boundary rope. The players are custodians of Australian cricket's culture of courageous, fiercely competitive on-field play that can, at times, lead to demonstrative sledges.
When asked if he was ready to deal with the intimidation, big crowds and heckling, Ashwin revealed a bit more about his persona. "It's wonderful if someone's going to put you down. It's the challenge you'd want, and only because we all want the challenge, we are playing this game. We wouldn't dream if there was no challenge," he said after Day Two of India's three-day warm-up match against CA Chairman's XI.
Ashwin (4-52) made a telling impact on his first outing in Australia yesterday, including the crucial scalps of Ed Cowan and Phillip Hughes - two batsmen he could be bowling at during the Tests. But the young bowler didn't give himself too much credit.
Surprised "I'm very surprised they (CA Chairman's XI batsmen) were not attacking me. I bowled a few bad balls. I didn't get hit for a six. I was prepared to be hit for a few sixes anyway, so it doesn't really matter," the 25-year-old spinner said.
When reminded that Chennai Super Kings teammate Michael Hussey recently said that Australia had a newfound respect for him, Ashwin put things in perspective. "It would have been nice if you'd not told me about it, because I didn't know about it. I'm just going to go in and... it's very simple -- try and attack the stumps for the left-hander, bowl outside off stump to the right-handers. That's what I'm going to look to do and try and spin the ball as much as possible, look for more bounce as the days progress. Nothing else really matters to me at the moment."
Ashwin's been in these parts before for the Emerging Players Tournament. The confidence was evident in the way he claimed to know exactly what to do to succeed here: "One thing was very clear for me before I came here. I've been here before, and I know exactly what to expect from the batsmen and from the wickets, so that's a big plus for me as far as I'm concerned as a cricketer."
And he wants to meet Shane Warne before the tour concluded. "Probably, if I can get down to Melbourne and get hold of Shane Warne, it would be nice," he said.