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Dravid feels Ashwin has 'grown, improved, evolved' as bowler
 
Kanpur, India head coach Rahul Dravid on Monday said that Ravichandran Ashwin has grown, improved and evolved to reach where he has, while referring to the off-spinner's "phenomenal achievement" of becoming the nation's third-highest wicket-taker in Tests.

On the final day of the first Test match between India and New Zealand, Ashwin surpassed Harbhajan Singh (417) in the list of most wickets getter for India in the longest format. The Tamil Nadu-born with 418 wickets to his name now sits behind Kapil Dev (434) and Anil Kumble (619) in the table.

It is worth noting that Ashwin achieved the milestone in just 80 Tests as compared to Harbhajan, who played 103 matches in the longest format.

"I think it's a phenomenal achievement. I think Harbhajan Singh was a really fine bowler, someone I played a lot of cricket with. He was a terrific bowler for India and what Ashwin has done, to be able to go past him in just 80 Test matches is a phenomenal achievement," Dravid said in a virtual press conference.

"Ashwin is one of those guys who has been an absolute match-winner for India, even today you saw on this difficult wicket. The way he pulled us back into the game on that third morning, with that spell of 11 overs, was absolutely phenomenal."

The 35-year-old picked up three Kiwi wickets in the first innings followed by another three in the second innings. On both occasions he dismissed the threatening New Zealand opener Will Young for 89 and 2.

"And then today just to keep us alive in the game, constantly be threatening on wickets like this is a tribute to his skills and ability. He has just evolved, he has just kept growing. He is one of those guys who keeps thinking about the game, keeps changing, keeps evolving, that's why he (has) got where he has.

"You don't achieve what Ashwin has achieved without growing and improving and evolving. It is a pleasure to have someone like him in the dressing room and to work (with). I am really happy for him," Dravid added.

Meanwhile, talking about the pitch in Kanpur, the India head coach said that it was low and slow, and didn't offer much bounce or turn.

"It was low and slow and probably it didn't have that much bounce or didn't have turn. Probably, you expect a little bit more wear and tear in Indian conditions over the course of five days. This didn't seem to have that kind of bite. Generally, in India on day five, spinners can challenge both edges - inside and outside. You know you can beat people on the inside edge and get lbw. But honestly, in this game, the outside edge was virtually ruled out.

"Even till the last day, none of the edges carried, very few catches close to the bat, I can't remember, KS Bharat took a couple. It sort of made it feel that there is only one way to get people out, bowled or may be lbw, probably two in last session."

Dravid also pointed out that the cracks didn't open much as it would have with arrival of winter.

"I have played here and I know wickets can be tough. Usually on day five, you should get bit more help and cracks to widen up a little bit, I don't know, may be it's winter and that's why cracks didn't open. It felt like if you wanted to block, didn't want to score runs, it got difficult to get people out and we saw that. We have quality guys who were able to make a game out of this and otherwise it would have easily gone on to become a dull draw," he signed off.

India and New Zealand will next meet in the second Test, which is scheduled between December 3-7, in Mumbai.


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