Semi-final can be anybody’s game: Ashwin

Mirpur (Bangladesh), April 3: Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin feels that winning all four-matches in the group stage at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium will give India some edge but admits that the semi-final against South Africa can be anybody’s game.

On the eve of Friday’s semi-final here, Ashwin, Man of the Match in the last two Indian wins, said whoever plays well will win the match.

“We know what to expect from this ground and the pitch but, of course, when it comes down to the semi-final, it’s anybody’s game,” said Ashwin.

“Whoever plays well on that particular day will have the advantage. But yes, we do hold an edge, having played so many games here. We know what to expect,” he added.

Ashwin said the reason behind his and leggie Amit Mishra’s success in the Twenty20 league is because they are not afraid of giving enough ball to the air.

“Once you’ve planned what you’re going to do at the top of your mark, it’s very hard to change unless you pause at the end. In terms of variation of pace, you need a lot of guts. If you’re at the top of your game, you can land the ball exactly where you want it to land. But apart from that, to actually slow the ball down when the batsman’s going after you is a key component of this particular game, for which you need quite a lot of guts,” he emphasised.

Ashwin said that in Twenty20 it needs a lot of guts for the bowlers to come back strongly after being hit for a six.

“And if you’ve gone for a six, it requires even more guts to come back the next ball. Those are the key components of a winning game, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

Asked if he was comfortable bowling with the new ball, Ashwin said: “It’s not about what I’m doing or where I’m given the ball. I’ve been playing alongside Mahi (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) for some time, and he probably knows where to use me and where not to use me.”

Ashwin said he was always open to bowling in any situation.

“So for me it doesn’t make any difference. In the last two or three months, I feel that I’m probably at the top of my bowling game. When I reach that phase, I pretty much don’t practise at all. That’s a phase I’m in right now. The ball is landing exactly where I want it to,” he said.

Ashwin also said there was no competition between him and Mishra.

“To be really honest, I’ve never bothered about who’s behind my shoulder. That’s not how I play my cricket. I believe in improving every day, and I don’t say it just for the sake of it. Unless you don’t keep improving, you’re not going to last the distance. You lose out. It’s pretty much like a business model, that’s how I view it. Somebody’s behind my shoulder? They can stay there. I’ll just keep doing what I do best,” he said.

Ashwin also warned that South African spinners Imran Tahir, JP Duminy and possibly Aaron Phangiso cannot be taken lightly.

“When it comes to international cricket, there’s a very small margin between the quality of spinners. Everybody’s bound to have a certain amount of quality in them,” he said.

“It’s all about the mental makeup of the spinner and what amount of guts he has in that particular scenario. It’ll be handling pressure that makes the difference, because Imran Tahir has been in top form. And I expect Phangiso to play. When that happens, you’re pretty much evened out in the amount of spinners both teams will play. It comes down to how well your spinners handle it,” he said.

IANS