Ravichandran Ashwin | ANI
Johannesburg: India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin reckons that stand-in captain KL Rahul is getting the formula of how to play in Test cricket. He added that Rahul had found the solution to what he needed to respond within Test cricket, which is working for him. After making a crucial 123 in the first innings at Centurion, Rahul made a gritty fifty in India's first innings total of 202 in the second Test at the Wanderers.
"I think KL's sort of getting that formula of how to go about playing Test cricket. There is no one formula for success when it comes to playing Test cricket. Teams are analysing, there's a lot more footage available and lots more technical assessment and breakdowns that happen in today's world. Test cricket is all about you responding to different sort of questions that are being thrown at you," said Ashwin in the virtual press conference.
"KL's found that solution what he thought he needed to respond to an' it's working for him. He's one of those players who's got the game, we all know he's got the game and the raw material. It's all about how you pan out, keep answering these constant questions that are being thrown at you. So, very happy with the way he's batting, looks very assured at the crease and starting from England, he's looked the part," added Ashwin.
After Rahul, Ashwin was the second-highest run-scorer for India with his counter-attacking cameo of 46, including hitting six boundaries. He attributed the knock to his efforts of playing shots with freedom, with some help from batting coach Vikram Rathour.
"In between somewhere for a couple of years, trying to sort of getting very technically right or whatever it is to try and build on scores. I think I had lost a bit of my flow with respect to getting into good positions at the crease. Even before, I have always batted at a good clip. There's not been a conscious effort to go out there and keep playing those shots. If it's there, it's there."
"For me, I get into those positions where I can play some of those shots which some of the specialist batters might not be able to play. But this freedom is what gave me success in the past. But it is still about choosing correctly and also getting the flow of my hands right, which I think I have been able to get to back to from a little bit before Australia. Vikram Rathour has been very helpful in having those communications and also trying to get those things sorted in the nets."
Ashwin was driving and punching crisply, presenting the full face of the bat, and even played a straight bat clip through mid-wicket. In a busy time at the cre'se, he didn't care much about his strike. "There was no attempt to go at such a strike rate. The moment I went in and the moment I got a straight ball which I hit down the ground and then got one which I hit on the up off Lungi Ngidi through the off-side. I trusted the balls there itself and responded to it, there was no attempt to go and play at that strike-rate."
He was happy that his planning went well in contrib'ting to India's total. "Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't, that's the beauty of playing the game. I also thought getting the hang of the pitch, initially, they started with the short ball again. Whenever I get to start off against a short ball, it gets me going a bit. So, I had gameplans, glad it's all worked out and it's also about building one and trying to be more productive for the team."