India’s head coach Rahul Dravid is a firm believer in match-ups and Men In Blue of late has been more of a data-driven unit under the former India captain.
“I don’t think players innately have to necessarily believe in matchups, but I think it’s an area that teams and tactical edges are happening around,” Ashwin said during the pre-match press conference.
Match-ups are a concept where based on data a team decides as to which bowler has a distinct edge over a particular batter or which batter at a particular time of the game is more useful.
“I think it’s safe to say that one end of the spectrum is to plan for all those things (match-ups), but as a bowler you need to constantly bowl to a lot of batters,” he said.
Ashwin doesn’t believe that one particular bowler should bowl to one particular batter.
“I think it is a feature that’s existing, and it is definitely being developed. As a playing unit, to only believe in that and say this guy will bowl to this person, you can’t work like that. But I think it’s giving a tactical edge to teams,” he agreed.
As a bowler, one needs to know what exactly are the pressure points.
“You need to constantly know where the Achilles heels are and work on it and try and get better. You want to add that to your skills, be it with the bat or the ball.”
India have never played international cricket Down Under in proper Australian winter and hence Ashwin doesn’t have a reference to know what he is supposed to expect.
“It would be unfair to say it’s different or it’s anything because we’ve never come to Australia this time of the year.
“Generally, when it comes to the sport itself, conditions are king. So, you need to understand that this is what is being presented in front of you.”
While one can do endless amount of analysis and strategic dissection but Ashwin for one believes that the shortest format hardly gives anyone time to think.
“Like I said, T20 is one sport where you need to adapt quickly and also respond quickly. You don’t have the time or the band width to be able to think, assess, and deliver. The time spans are very short.”
While teams like Sri Lanka, Australia or England have had a chance to play at least two games at one particular venue, that has not been the case with India as commercial demands mean that Rohit Sharma’s team has been hopping from one city to another.
“Some other teams have managed to stay in one venue and play at a certain venue a couple of times, which Indian team hasn’t had the luxury of doing and rightly so.
“There are a lot of Indian people around the country that want to watch the game, so it’s understandable,” Ashwin sighted the practical problems.
In these conditions, it is the Indian fast bowlers, who have set the tone as Ashwin has taken 3 wickets in 4 games.
“Pretty much the roles have been the fast bowlers have set the tone. As a spinner coming in the back half 9th or 10th and then doing the job for the back end is a role that we have to adapt to,” Indian team’s resident ‘Cricket Scientist’ said.
And Ashwin, on his own admission, is happy with the role of bowling at the back-end of the innings.
“It’s not like I haven’t done that role before. It happens in the IPL now and then. So, the demands of the game, what the situation is and what you have to deliver for the team is exactly what adaptations call.”