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  1. Couple of interesting answers in Ashwin's interview: R Ashwin loves to talk. He gets agitated and takes a dig at the media if he is asked about India's 'tailor-made pitch theory at home' in recent times, but he doesn't mind going into great depths while discussing various other issues. The 29-year-old had a fantastic 2015; he was easily India's player of the year, setting up two Test series wins ­ against Sri Lanka and South Africa. In a week's time, Ashwin will be off to Australia, trying to win an ODI and T20 series Down Under. Before that, he spoke to TOI about the year gone by and his plans in the coming year. Excerpts: It's been an incredible 2015 for you. What do you feel about the year? It's been really good. I was a bit disappointed by the way 2014 ended when I was not part of the Test team on quite a few occasions. It was the right time when Ravi Shastri (team director) and Bharath Arun (bowling coach) came in and they have been instrumental in turning things around. I hope I replicate the performances in 2016 as well. How have Shastri and Arun helped you? They have allowed me to make mistakes. They have either told me how to correct those mistakes or pointed out where I was going wrong. I am somebody who likes communication - I want to be spoken to and I want to speak to people. They have not mistaken me when I have gone and spoken to them on issues and they have only added value. Earlier people had mistaken me for speaking out but that hasn't been the case with these guys. What was your highest point of 2015? It's the Man of the Series award that I won in Sri Lanka. It was my first Test win abroad. I was a very important part of that tour along with a young captain and I hope we live many such moments this year as well. Your most satisfying scalp of 2015? It has to be AB (de Villiers) in Nagpur. I hadn't bowled the carrom ball to him for a while. During that innings, he was getting outside the line of leg-stump, trying to get the LBW out of the way. I beat him on the leg side once, then I beat him with off spin and after that I landed one on the stumps. He thought the ball would turn, it didn't. Over a period of 10 balls I built that dismissal up and it was one of the best of my career. Carrom ball is a delivery that you use quite brilliantly. How is it different from the doosra and do you think doosra can be bowled without bending your arm? Carrom ball is a proper knuckle ball and it can't be bowled with an offspinner's grip. It is a finger-spinning ball and you don't use the wrist or elbow to bowl it - it's like a legal leg-break. But I don't think the doosra can be bowled without bending your arm, may be the topspinner but not the doosra. Getting back to last year, who was the most difficult batsman to bowl to and why? It's a difficult pick when you have a good year (smiles). But because we played one Test in Australia, I would probably say Steven Smith. He is a great batsman, uses his feet well, and even though has got out to offspinners quite a bit, his quick feet, quick hands make him a difficult batsman to bowl to. You have the happy knack of getting the best opposition players out. It was AB against South Africa and Kumar Sangakkara against Lanka. So during the Australia series, who is your target, Smith or David Warner? Well, I am not targeting any batsman. I am just hoping for a very good challenge. I think I am a little better equipped this time to win a series abroad and I hope I contribute my best to the team's success. Australia are struggling with a few retirements and injuries. There's already a buzz that India have a great chance of winning the series. Your thoughts... Every team goes through difficult phases and Australia are going through that. But all teams are very strong at home and when you are playing there, it's about how well you start. It's true that with the kind of players that we have, there is a decent chance, but the most important thing is to enjoy the tour and relish the challenge. You have spoken about how you enjoy playing under Virat Kohli. Is it difficult to adapt under two captains in two formats? And how different are Virat and MS Dhoni in their captaincy? I don't think it's difficult to adjust playing under two captains. I know both of them very well and they have both shown confidence in me. They are very different as captains but there is no one method to winning a game. Virat is more of a communicator who inspires, motivates and leads from the front. Dhoni is a better handler of emotions - he is all to himself and takes everything on his chin and handles it with a lot of maturity. MS is not playing Tests any more but Virat stands out in the way he tries to push players up and it's a great quality to have. But a comparison can only be made when Virat has led the side for seven to 10 years. You are always developing new deliveries. What's new up your sleeve? I always keep trying things. I feel if a batsman can play a reverse sweep, I can also bowl leg-break. With that thought, I have been trying the leg-break and I think I have mastered it now. But I will be sure when I unleash one in a match situation and take the top of off-stump. The next one is probably the googly and the flipper, but I haven't tried those. You take your batting seriously. Are you working on it, more so with the ODIs and T20s coming up? One day I aspire to be the best all rounder in ODIs. I am creating an environment where I can achieve that and I am very sure I can do it. I have no issues working with anybody and I am open to any advice. I am ready to give everything a try. We know you firmly believe in the 'tailor-made pitch' theory. Do you think it will continue next year, when India will play about 12 Tests at home? There's no point me talking about it. Fighting against the media is like hitting the wall. Media is always going to find someone to explain on their behalf and any opinion that a cricketer gives is going to be countered by an ex-cricketer because media pays him. I don't see a reason why we should have a debate on the pitches because you have already decided what you want to say. All I can tell you is that we don't prepare the pitches. We play on pitches that are given to us, we don't complain when we go abroad. Curators are paid to prepare pitches, we are paid to play, the fans are paying to watch, and you are paid to write. So I am not going to get into this pitch debate. That's fine but are you OK with Test matches getting over in only two-and-a-half days? Probably the batsmen coming from abroad can bat a little better so that the matches don't get over in two-and-a-half days. When England came here a couple of years back, Test matches did go on for five days, didn't they? Finally it seems you have got some good spin bowling back-up in Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra? Mishra's a senior bowler, he is not a back-up. He is a bowler from whom I have learnt from and Jadeja has always done well in Test cricket. He has sometimes been blamed for things that he hasn't done too wrong - he is a fine Test bowler and bats decently lower down the order. So I don't think Jadeja's rise to form is a surprise and I am happy for him. Source - Cricbuzz

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