Ravichandran Ashwin has credited his resilient batting show in Sydney for his record ton in the second Test against England at the MA Chidambaram stadium. Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari batted out 258 balls to help India walk away with an epic draw and head into the final Test at the Gabba, which the touring party won by three wickets to clinch the Border-Gavaskar series 2-1.
Proving his worth with the bat, Ashwin scored 106 runs off 148 balls with the help of 14 fours and a six on a turning Chepauk wicket. Ashwin's century followed a five-wicket haul in England's first innings, making him only the second cricketer to achieve the feat of a century and a fifer in the same game on three different occasions. Ian Botham of England had done it five times. Ashwin, the hero of India's comprehensive win, was also adjudged Man of the Match.
"This was a red soil wicket, the first one was a clay wicket. As much as people were predicting things from the outside, I thought the balls that was doing much wasn't getting wickets. It was the mind of the batsmen that got us wickets. I have been playing for years over here now and it takes pace and guile to do it. Keeping the intent was very important. It is very important to put the pressure on the bowlers because if you allow them to dictate terms," said Ashwin.
"I just wanted to take it upon myself, and after I connected the first ball, I knew I got a hang of this wicket. I am someone who tries hard, and when things don't go my way, I try harder. Vikram Rathore has been very supportive. My batting was more about hands, to think tactically instead of technically. Ajinkya played a crucial role in telling me that I was overthinking it. That innings in Sydney really set the tone for me," he added on his batting heroics.
The veteran off-spinner also acknowledged the crowd in Tamil and said that he got a 'hero's feeling' while playing in Chennai amid Covid times.
"As an eight-year-old I have come here on these very stands to watch cricket. I have played four Test matches here and easily this is the most special. I get a hero's feeling here playing cricket in Covid times, and this knowledgable crowd came out in big numbers. They were 1-0 without the crowd, and we made it 1-1 with them. Hopefully, we can take it forward," he further said.
Ashwin also played down the talk surrounding the pitch. "As much as people were predicting things from the outside, I thought the balls that was doing much wasn't getting wickets.
It was the mind of the batsmen that got us wickets," Ashwin said but did not elaborate on his comment on the rival batsmen. "I have been playing for years over here now and it takes pace and guile to do it. Keeping intent was very important."
The four-match series now moves to Ahmedabad where the third Test -- a Day-Night affair -- will be played from February 24 at the newly constructed Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera.