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Ashwin reveals ‘sweep shot’ story, credits Rathour for batting progress

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Indian cricket team all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin, who scored his fifth Test century on Day three of the second Test, said he brought out his sweep shot for the first time after well over a decade.

Speaking at the end of the day’s play, the 34-year-old gave a back story to his early days of practicing the shot and how he he reinvented it to counter England left-arm spinner Jack Leach.

"After the last Test, we were thinking on how to counter [Jack] Leach and start bringing sweep to the game. The last time I was sweeping was probably when I was 19 years old; hit a couple of sweep shots, got dropped from the side, and maybe never played a sweep for the last 11, maybe 13-14 years.

I've been practicing that shot for the last week to 10 days. Very, very thankful that the plan has really paid off," Ashwin said.

Ashwin’s 106 off 148 balls helped the Virat Kohli-led side set a target of 482 runs for England, and the Tamil Nadu-born player heaped praise on batting coach Vikram Rathour, a former India opener, for his improvement in the batting department.

"I would love to credit him (Vikram Rathour) for how my batting has gone through the last four-five Test matches. He has kept me in the loop, said I have been batting very well. He asked me not to overthink but just look at the gameplan," he disclosed.

The off-spinner credited Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Siraj for holding their ground and supporting him as he registered his third century on home soil.

"I think in the past when I have made my hundreds in India, Ishi [Ishant Sharma] has been a sort cog in the wheel. He has been with me twice when I made my hundred. He sort of understands how I go about it. Ishi was defending well. So, I thought I need to take calculated risks as long as he was there.

But once Siraj came, I knew I had to get it done in a few overs. But I was super thrilled how he batted and hit the ball out of the ground," he said smilingly.

On Siraj's celebration after his hundred, Ashwin said: "Quite a funny thing [to see him] excited when I got to my hundred. That says a thing or two about how the dressing room has been. Lived a dream over the past three-four months."

Ashwin on Sunday became the first player in the 143-year history of Test cricket to take 200 wickets against left-handed batsmen, with Stuart Broad being his 200th victim.

Meanwhile, England ended Day 3 at 53/3 and require another 429 runs to win the second Test against India at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. The visitors had defeated India by 227 runs in the first Test at the same venue to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

Feature image courtesy: Twitter / BCCI

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