Ashwin's first Test at Chepauk an affair to remember
"Even if it is my last Test match I will be happy, I said to myself" explained a visibly emotional Ravichandran Ashwin, shortly after the opening day's play of the first Test between India and Australia at the MA Chidambaram stadium on Friday.
It was his first Test match on his home ground and the 26-year-old had made it an occasion to remember with figures of six for 88.
"I have grown up on this ground. I have played a lot of IPL (Indian Premier League) matches here (for Chennai Super Kings), a few one-day internationals and one T20 internationals.
"But nothing comes close to a Test match. So I was in complete awe ahead of the match," Ashwin said.
However, contrary to expectation (and perception) the wicket didn't spin as much.
"The pitch looked very dirty and we thought it will spin a lot," explained Ashwin, before proceeding to elaborate his point.
"It didn't spin at all," he continued, adding, "There were a few balls that jumped but overall it was a very slow wicket.
"I had to keep varying my pace at different points during the day."Having been criticised for not matching up to expectations -- he managed only 14 wickets in four matches even as England inflicted on India a humiliating home defeat -- Ashwin had a point to prove, especially considering the fact that he had been named the player of the series against both West Indies and New Zealand -- his first two series on home soil.
Image: R Ashwin
'I had Kumble's record in mind'
And prove himself he did, by running through the Australian top order. The bowler albeit defended his performance against England.
"I know everyone has an opinion but I don't think I had a bad series against England. I was doing all that I did today," explained Ashwin.
"It's just that I didn't get wickets then and I got them today," he added.
The 26-year-old would have had a seventh wicket on the day had umpire Kumar Dharamsena given Michael Clarke, unbeaten on 103 at close of play, out caught -- television replays indicating a clear edge.
"I knew he had edged so I appealed. In fact we all appealed in unison," explained Ashwin, adding, "However, Dharmasena, despite being a spinner himself, didn't think so. Maybe he thought he had given a lot of decisions in my favour.
"Had we got him (Clarke) out we could have kept the Australians down by another 60-70 runs on the day. But it was not to be.
"In Test cricket such things happen."
Having taken the first six Australian wickets to fall on the day, Ashwin said he had Anil Kumble's record -- 10-74 against Pakistan at the Feroz Shah Kotla in 1999 -- in mind.
"I would be lying if I say no," he admitted.
"The way the ball was coming out of my hand I thought it (a 10-wicket haul) was a possibility," continued Ashwin, adding, "But I had to leave the field for some time because of a niggle. It took the momentum away."As it happened Ravindra Jadeja helped himself with the lone other wicket to fall on the day, one that otherwise belonged to Ashwin.
Image: R Ashwin