Galle: Ravichandran Ashwin on Wednesday said he rediscovered himself after critically analysing his bowling, as he left the Sri Lankans bamboozled with a six-wicket haul, which gave India an upper hand in the first cricket Test here.
"Some credit should go to Ravichandran Ashwin also," India's strike bowler said at the post-day press conference adding, "Because I have taken stock of my own bowling, being a lot critical of myself, raised a lot of questions and got fruitful answers from both Bharat Arun and Ravi Shastri. That has actually enabled me to try and discover myself.
"I think nothing is a permanent feat in life as you start stagnating. I think you have to keep improving," the Tamil Nadu tweaker added with a touch of pragmatism.
He did not hide his pleasure on having taken 6 for 43 in Sri Lanka's meagre first innings score of 183.
"I am very happy to do it on a consecutive basis," said Ashwin, referring to the 5/87 he took in Bangladesh on the preceding Test tour.
"I think it is more about how the game is. I am not looking at my personal milestones. I want to get better. The process is in place and its perfect. I am looking at it from that perspective."
Ashwin also made it clear that he does not want to differentiate between home and foreign conditions.
"I am not looking too much into what is foreign and what is local performance. So I tried to put an end to that kind of feel. I want to move ahead and do better for the team.
It's an extraordinary performance to bowl out a team in a day especially in Sri Lankan conditions after having lost the toss," he added.
He said that speaking to Shastri has been of great help. "Ravi Shastri is a very positive influence on the team. When I was not playing in Australia, he (Shastri) came to me and told me why I was not playing. He gave me a bit of sympathy about why I am not playing. It is not generally something I look for. He has been a very positive influence.
He tried to talk to me about things he experienced when he was in Australia. That's where it took off.
"I am someone who likes talking cricket and discussing cricket. Especially with him around he is someone who enjoys the same pattern. When we talk and discuss a lot, new opportunities open up to try a few things and the improvement has already started."
Apart from Ashwin, Amit Mishra also picked two wickets while Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron had one apiece as the hosts were bowled out within 50 overs. While there were a couple of chances missed behind the wicket, the catching in front of the batsmen was exceptional, with KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma putting in spectacular efforts.
"It helps when you can send Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews back with good catches, doesn't it? It was great," said Ashwin.
"These things happen, and you should also have the composure to say they will drop a few and you have to accept that because they are putting in the effort. As far as my fellow cricketers go, I can only see from what effort they put.
"I don't see anybody lacking in any effort during the practice sessions, they practice as hard as anyone else ? say a Michael Clarke or an Ian Bell or someone. That's all you can expect from your fellow teammates. One of these days, they might pull off such catches, and on another day they might drop a sitter. You must have the composure to say okay, it will happen, and take it in your stride."
The match is now firmly in India's favour, but all eyes will be on the pitch as well as the weather, after a dry first day.
"I am not quite convinced with the bounce. I thought the wicket was really tacky in the morning and it was just deviating enough. It was not as much of fizz and bounce in the wicket.
"I think as the game goes on, it is going to get really slow. You will have to work harder to get wickets. From that aspect of things, we need to bat really well and see where we go from there," Ashwin signed off.