Mohali: India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Friday ridiculed the media attention on the pitch for the first Test, saying most of the batsmen got out by playing bad shots.
After India were bundled for 201 in the first innings, Ashwin made sure with his 13th five-wicket haul that the hosts take a narrow 17-run lead over South Africa.
"Honestly I think it's the batting that makes the wicket look what it is. I don't know if any Indian journalist knows the name of the curator in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, but we seem to get a hang of Daljit Singh very quickly ," Ashwin told reporters after the end of second day play.
"None of us go to South Africa and say the wicket is green. The grass is less green at the bottom and stuff like that. I don't hear any such statements. But unfortunately here the first day some of my good friends came and said the wicket is a little drier. We have played way too long in Mohali to know how the wicket works.
"I was very surprised with some of the shots which we played in the first innings. But putting that aside I think (Hashim) Amla s ball was a very good one. Elgar, I have seen him bat.. had a wonderful time in watching him on youtube last night. He has done that a lot at Johannesburg. I made it a point to tell him it's not Johannesburg. I thought it coming, I knew he is going to play that shot," said Ashwin.
Talking about his strategy against de Villiers, who fell to Amit Mishra, Ashwin said, "It wasn't very different. Even in T20s I was attacking him different line, lengths and speeds as well. I thought I could have had him anytime in the three- over spell that I bowled to him.
"It was good lines, the ball was coming off nicely, I was in the middle of a very good spell. Very interesting if I could have had him, I thought I had him once."
On the key aspects of bowling on this track, Ashwin said, "I think it's very important to bowl good pace on this wicket.
I have not seen any batsman defending and get out apart from the one that happened to Vijay, where he thrust forward, defended and got out."
"It's very important to use your feet. To bowl it's all about how it's coming out of your hand. For me it's coming out really well. So I don't think I require much turn from any pitch at this point of time."
On being asked about his consistent performance, Ashwin, who became the fastest Indian bowler to claim 150 wickets in 29 Tests, said, "I think two things. I have got a good stock of my bowling at the crease. To put it into practice and from there on try and set in control over the batsmen. I think in the past there have been times when I have thought that I will get wickets quickly if I spin one across and one straight, but that's not what Test cricket goes."
"It's been a good learning for me and thankfully I learnt pretty quickly and from there on I have just looked to build good spells and try and get control over the batsman and over a period of time and make sure I produce a good ball in that period of time."
Ashwin also said that the bowlers need to stay patient in getting wickets.
"Definitely patience is very very important. They do have some quality batsmen in their ranks. We do know that a partnerships are going to come. It is about ascertaining control over a batter and try and make a false stroke come from him. Especially if its an Amla or an AB or a Faf. You know that they are going to make an error on the offensive side.
"So it's very important that you keep control and be very patient. For example some of the shots that AB played today was outstanding. So you just have to clap and make sure you bowl good balls the next one. That's how it goes," he said.
De Villiers got a lucky reprieve in the 25th over of the day after Jadeja induced an outside edge of the star player s bat and Virat Kohli took a clean catch after the ball lobbed off wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha s gloves but replays showed that the left-arm spinner had overstepped the popping crease.
Ashwin talked about the anxious moment.
"From a batsman's side it is very exciting because I know I have another chance. From a bowler's perspective it is heartbreaking because you know that you're not going to get that wicket after celebrating. So it is a bit funny. You think it's done. And at the end of the after someone's dead, he's come back," he said.