T20 World Cup: Don’t think players innately have to necessarily believe in matchups, says Ashwin

Ace India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin believes that keeping full faith in matchups of T20 cricket may not guarantee success, but at the same time he feels that it definitely gives teams a tactical edge.

With many teams playing the Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia in October-November, the period of time where cricket is rarely played in the country, the importance of player-specific match-ups has increased, especially with the majority of data in hand for teams coming from peak summer months of playing in Australia.

“I don’t think players innately have to necessarily believe in matchups, but I think it’s an area that teams and tactical edges are happening around. It’s safe to say that one end of the spectrum is to plan for all those things, but as a bowler you need to constantly bowl to a lot of batters.

“You need to constantly know where the Achilles heels are and work on it and try and get better. You want to add that to your skills be it with the bat or the ball. It is a feature that’s existing, and it is definitely being developed.

“As a playing unit, to only believe in that and say this is what this guy will bowl to this person, you can’t work like that. But I think it’s giving a tactical edge to teams,” said Ashwin in the press conference on the eve of India’s match against Zimbabwe at MCG on Sunday.

As per the match-up theory, Ashwin was also spotted in the practice sessions, practicing his batting against the short ball. Asked about the same, the off-spinner opined practising shots against short ball is critical in Australia, where batters get majority of runs off horizontal shots.

“I don’t have a lot of balls to plan and take it on. But, that’s pretty much been our plan here as it’s not only the lower batsman. Because of the bounce and boundary sizes, people have tended to go a lot of length and short balls.

“It is a very critical shot to practice. You can’t keep thinking ‘go in there and think how I’m going to rotate it’ and all of that. You have to be practicing and giving your instinct the best chance to hit that ball. Glad it worked. Hopefully, it keeps working.”

India’s fielding in the tournament has oscillated between being sloppy, like in their loss to South Africa and being outstanding, like holding on to every chance on offer against Bangladesh. Ashwin remarked that India have been putting in the effort to do well as a fielding unit despite cold conditions in Australia.

“Hard work and practice, catching high balls, flat balls, all the ground feeling, everybody is putting in the hard work. On the game day, what happens, how you might drop a catch or what you do is very, very important.”

“Having said that, we have had a couple of ordinary games where we’ve also had a wonderful game last game against Bangladesh catching, and that probably turned the game on its head.

“It’s been a very different Australia. The weather has been very cold. Not only the catches. There have been teams which have a very, very good time in the park in this tournament who have also dropped catches.

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