Adversities in the form of injuries and racial abuse has only brought the Indian team closer and respond on the field in a warrior-like fashion, says off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
India have been losing players to injuries on the ongoing Australia tour, with the latest being Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant, who though will bat on Day Five of the third Test as India chase 407 for a win at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
“I personally feel whatever has been thrown at us, we have responded in a very warrior-like fashion and we would like to take the fight tomorrow,” said Ashwin while speaking to the media on Sunday.
“I feel when adversity comes, the team comes together. Even after the Adelaide Test, we got together and talked, had a team event too. I think we got together pretty tight after that game and we saw the result at the MCG. And we were looking really, really positive coming into this game as well,” he added.
Ashwin confirmed that Pant will bat on the fifth day but he said that there is not much that can be done about Jadeja’s injury.
“Rishabh Pant will bat, the bruise was quite severe and it was quite painful. Elbow can be quite a tricky place to deal with…But you know such innocuous things like what happened to Jadeja, the ball rose from back of a length and injured him. Sometimes these things happen and it does set you back. I won’t say it is not a setback. It is what it is,” he said.
The 34-year-old added that the team doesn’t discuss what is not in its control.
“As a team we have decided in the dressing room that we won’t really speak about how things are not going your way… We refrain from talking about things that are not in our control. We can only do what we can do and we can control what we can,” he said.
India went into Stumps on the fourth day at 98/2 still needing 309 runs to take a 2-1 lead in the ongoing four-match series. They will need a huge partnership between overnight batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and skipper Ajinkya Rahane. If they are able to stay in, India could even fancy a chance of going after the total in the last session as Ashwin believes that the wicket isn’t doing much.
“The pitch has been quite slow and it has been quite good to bat. In fact, the balls that we saw misbehave yesterday, go up and down have come down…the game started off with the pitch not seeing a lot of sun. As the sun is belting down, the wicket is getting better to bat,” he said.
“It is very important that we play a very good and ideal first session without losing a wicket. And these two gentleman out there have proven all through their career about how good they are… Ajinkya has got a hundred at the MCG. Pujju made a 50 in first innings…we are very confident that they will do a good job,” he added.
India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has termed Sydney crowd as the most abusive in Australia, saying that he has witnessed fans on the lower tier stands at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) indulge in unsavoury behaviour every time he has come to play here.
The ongoing tour is Ashwin’s fourth of Australia and he is playing his third Test at the SCG.
Ashwin on Sunday said he was surprised that the authorities at the SCG allowed fans to continue with racial abuse even on Day Four of the ongoing Test despite the fact that the Indian team had lodged a complaint at the end of the third day’s play.
“This is my fourth tour to Australia. Especially here in Sydney we have had a few experiences even in the past. I think one or two times in the past even the players have reacted and got into trouble in the past (referring to Virat Kohli showing middle-finger at SCG in 2012 and getting fined 50 per cent match fee for it). It is not because of the players, it has been the way the crowd has been speaking especially people on lower tier of the stand, they have been quite nasty hurling abuses as well,” said Ashwin while speaking to reporters after the end of the fourth day’s play.
“This time they have gone one step ahead and used racial abuses and like we already mentioned we lodged an official complaint yesterday. It is definitely not acceptable in this day and age where we have evolved as a society. Sometimes I feel it roots back to the upbringing. It definitely must be dealt with iron-fist and we must make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
It was only after Mohammed Siraj brought the matter to the attention of the umpires on Sunday that the security evicted six spectators from the stands. Cricket Australia subsequently issued a statement mentioning its zero-tolerance policy towards racism.
Ashwin felt that the authorities should have been proactive and been on guard from the onset and not waited for Siraj to bring it to attention.
“The umpires mentioned that we must bring it to their notice as it happens on the field, then they will be able to take an action…In fact, I was quite surprised that some sections of the crowd continuously did it and they did not make (security) surround them to pull them up for it. That is quite surprising. It definitely had to be dealt with. Yes, disappointing is a very, very mild word for it,” said Ashwin.
“Personally, I think Adelaide and Melbourne were not as bad but like I said this has been a continual thing at Sydney. I personally experienced it as well. They do tend to get nasty, I don’t know why or for what reason. Unless it is really dealt with, people don’t find the necessity to look at it in a different way,” he added.
The off-spinner said that the current generation of Indian cricketers doesn’t take things lying down and even a debutant like Siraj is aware of what he has to do.
“If I take myself back to the first tour I came here in 2011-12, I had no clue what racial abuse was or how you can be made to feel small in front of so many people. And people actually laugh at you when you get abused. There are like other set of people who laugh along with these things happening. I had no idea what this was about…whenever you stood at the boundary line, you wanted to stand in another 10 yards to evade all these things,” said Ashwin.
“But as things have strolled on and we have learnt more and more things on tours, this is definitely not acceptable. Even yesterday when Siraj brought it out, Ajinkya, Rohit and myself we were all together with the umpire and reported it. Nowadays the boys are much better equipped. Even with Siraj, who has come in new, he does know that this is a line he cannot overstep, even if it is at the boundary line. It is a wonderful thing. It must be met the way it was met. We are happy that those people were evicted,” added the 34-year-old.
Meanwhile, Australia set a 407-run target for India in reply to which the visitors reached 98/2 at Stumps on Day Four, still needing 309 runs to win the last day of the Test match.