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Modest Ashwin credits Shastri for improved performance

FEW SPIN BOWLERS have showed the kind of authority and control on the opening day of a Test match that Ravichandran Ashwin displayed at Galle. On Wednesday, he picked up the best figures for an Indian bowler in away Tests (6/46), and there couldn’t have been a better way to prove his mettle.

It’s been more than four years since the off-spinner started his journey in international cricket, and his struggle on foreign land has been a major cause of concern. If Ashwin manages to dish out a few more performances like the one at Galle, his away average is only going to get better.

"I am not looking too much into what is foreign and what is local performance. I tried to put an end to that kind of feeling. I want to move ahead and do better for the team. It's an extraordinary performance to bowl out a team in a day, especially in Sri Lankan conditions after having lost the toss," Ashwin told TOI at the end of day’s play.

The 28-year old has been India’s go-to spinner in the past few years, but was dropped from the Test squad last year in Adelaide in favour of newbie Karn Sharma. Ashwin believes it was the team director Ravi Shastri who helped him stay confident.

"Ravi Shastri is a very positive influence on the team. When I was not playing in Australia he came to me and told me why I was not playing. He gave me a bit of sympathy as well. It is not generally something I look for. He tried to talk to me about things he experienced when he was in Australia. That's where it took off. I am someone who likes talking cricket and discussing cricket," the 28-year-old told TOI.

Ashwin’s bowling style has also undergone a major change. The pause before the delivery seems to have disappeared, and the action is smoother than before. He has also become a handy batsman at the bottom, making him a sort of an all-rounder in the team. The Tamil Nadu star also realizes that it is now going to be difficult to get wickets on slow pitches.

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