Ashwin decodes impact of England's bold Bazball approach

After India’s 4-1 victory in the home Test series against England, India offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin shared his views on the Bazball phenomenon and reflected on his crucial spell in the second Test at Visakhapatnam.

The series began with England taking a 28-run win in Hyderabad, a result that highlighted the merits of England’s new-age approach to Test cricket under their head coach Brendon McCullum.

However, India took control of the proceedings from there, securing victories in the remaining four Tests and raising questions over the visiting team’s strategy.

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In his latest Youtube video, Ashwin spoke at length about the ‘Bazball Tour of India’, dissecting England’s approach.

"There were many times in this series when I thought, if this was against Australia instead of England, we could have seen two draws instead of results,'' Ashwin said.

“At least one, because of the flatter cricket pitches…  But because of this new English approach, they put us under pressure in several Tests. 

“The pressure was because - them playing three sessions could be equal to us playing five-six sessions in terms of runs scored, and so every match was bound to go for a result,” he said. “So it was always on my mind that we would have to try something different.”

The Hyderabad Test was Ashwin’s first against England since they adopted the Bazball tactics nearly two years ago. 

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“The one thing that I personally understood after the first Test is that Bazball isn’t just aggressive cricket,” he said. “It is defenseless cricket. 

"They aren’t going to play a defensive shot at all. They are going to get out if they play defense. To my surprise, Joe Root also agreed to their game plan. Because if you take world cricket’s best defense rankings, Joe Root is an easy No.1 on that list against spin. He also bought into their approach.”

England were chasing a target of 398 in the second Test in Visakhapatnam, when Ashwin chipped in with three wickets to set up India’s victory.

“I backed myself to bowl at the stumps, and at the right time, Kona [Srikar] Bharat took a catch, just like [Wriddhiman] Saha took the catch of Matthew Wade in the Bangalore Test [in 2017]. 

“After that, positive vibes surrounded the place. The next morning, I was able to knock over Joe Root and Ollie Pope. One of the crucial morning spells and one of the best spells I’ve bowled in my life so far. 

“Tom Hartley was my potential 500th wicket, but then the review got turned down. And James Anderson with the glove again, the ball flew over slip. Some things are meant to be, and some things are not. I could have gotten five there, but all I could was three, but still one of the outstanding spells I’ve bowled, in my opinion.” 

The spin maestro finished the series as the top wicket-taker with 26 scalps in 10 innings, averaging 24.80 which included two five-wicket hauls in Ranchi, and Dharamsala, where he played his 100th Test.

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