Mighty impressed with Ravichandran Ashwin’s range, aggressive mindset and relentless pursuit of wickets, senior England batter Joe Root has said that the veteran Indian off-spinner is a constant threat who hardly believes in the concept of wearing the opposition down.

Ashwin, who recently went past the 500-wicket milestone in the traditional format, becoming only the second Indian after Anil Kumble to do so, will play his 100th Test during the fifth match against England, starting on March 7 at Dharamsala.

“Ashwin is always trying to find ways of getting you out rather than trying to wear you down, over long periods of time,” Root said on  the Sky Sports cricket podcast hosted by former England captains Mike Atherton and Nasser Hussain.

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Root, who is enjoying a break in the series with his teammates, said the infinite variety that Ashwin has in his bowling keeps the batters guessing.

“He uses creases differently from traditional off-spinners. He uses over-spin, side-spin, can get really tight to the stumps, can go wider, and he has got the carrom ball, you know, a lot of different tricks.

“So, you will have to be wary of different threats that he poses and make sure that you have very good skill sets to counter (him) and be on top of him,” said the ex-England skipper.

Giving an insight into the way Ashwin operates, Root said the Tamil Nadu man often bowls six different deliveries in an over.

“Ashwin is making sure that you don’t play the previous ball. He is very good at trying to drag you across the crease and get your head to one side of it and beat both edges quite frequently,” he said.

Root said Ashwin poses different threats while bowling with new and old balls.

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“There are different things to contend with because of his seam position and how cleverly he can move around the shiny side that has got some extra skid.

“So, you have to make sure that you are in position a little bit quicker. He can also drift the ball away and bring the slip fielder into play,” he explained.

Root also offered a comparison between Ashwin and Nathan Lyon, the other premier off-spinner of this generation. The 36-year-old Australian has taken 527 wickets from 128 Tests.

“With Lyon, it is all about, I think, especially in the first half of the Test match, to get over the top of the ball, get the bowl bounce, knee roll high, in between and try to bring short leg and leg slip into the game as much as he can.

“Then just slowly, get slower with his pace and drift wider into that. There are those footmarks, you know, Mitchell Starc has so kindly done for him for such a long period of time,” added Root.

England’s much-talked-about ‘Bazball’ approach has not really worked in this series against India, where the visitors are currently trailing 1-3.

But Root said frustration has not seeped into the England camp as yet.

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“Don’t think there is too much frustration within the team. Our top order has been far more consistent than it has been for long, long years. But this part of the world can be quite tricky to do that (attacking batting), especially in the second innings.

“But the bigger picture is not about how we can blast ahead but to find the best in our game. There will be times when we need to play a bit pragmatic, but this team does not regret, and we need to learn from every opportunity,” he detailed.

Jonny Bairstow, who is set to play his 100th Test in Dharamsala, has struggled with the bat, managing just 170 runs from four Tests, and he is yet to score even a fifty.

However, Root backed his fellow Yorkshireman to come good sooner than later.

“I came across him when he was 12 at a Yorkshire scholarship programme with the rest of the boys. He was a superstar even then and had the tough task of living up to the name of his father (former England wicketkeeper David Bairstow).

“But Jonny has always excelled and went from strength to strength. He wears his emotions on his sleeve,” said Root.


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