Ashwin: I was quite dogged
We didn’t expect Ashwin to get so much assistance from the pitch: Markram
Calcutta: The pacers haven't struck so far, but whatever little assistance was on offer from the Day I pitch at the SuperSport Park in Centurion, Ravichandran Ashwin made good use of it.
Ashwin's three wickets went a long way in restricting South Africa to 269 for 6 especially after the strong start the hosts were off to having won the toss and elected to bat.
Ashwin later emphasised that the experience of playing County cricket in England for Worcestershire came to be of great help while bowling on the Centurion track.
"I like to think I have kept us in the game. It could have so easily been a game where they could have run away with it after the second session. I like to believe I was just dogged enough.
"I think my experience of going to England and my County stint there helped because this has been a sort of wicket which you get there, especially where I played - at New Road - where it's pretty flat... One ball jumps occasionally and then goes flat for a pretty long time.
"My first-class teammates would say that I have to develop a lot of patience and hearing those things from them was definitely a reality check for me. Yeah, I have gone through a massive ride over the last eight months and I am in a phase of life where I really want to enjoy my cricket," the off-spinner said after Saturday's proceedings.
The onus now is to get the remaining four South African wickets as quickly as possible. "It's just about coming out and doing what we did in the last session today.
"We have to be as miserly as possible with the ball and try and dismiss them as quickly as we can. You can't really bowl them out on this wicket, you really have to dig deep and earn those wickets.
"It depends upon how well you do it, how well we recover to get the job done tomorrow morning. Thankfully, we are playing with five bowlers," Ashwin said.
Elaborating on Saturday's final session, Ashwin added: "It was a good last session for us because I feel those wickets are very valid incentive for the team going into the second day.
"If South Africa had not lost so many wickets in the last session - two run-outs that were extraordinary work from Hardik (Pandya) with a bit of luck for us - I think they would have had batsmen walking in on Sunday morning and making it harder for us.
"The new ball isn't doing a lot actually and the pitch is flattening out, with spin going out of the surface a lot more. I think Days II and III will be very good for batting."
Ashwin wasn't really thinking too much while bowling. "When they had partnerships going, I was a little reluctant to go from over and round the stumps and change angles because at the end of the day, I think I had a bit of cushion there to try all those things.
"Within my mind, this was probably one of the relaxed days of my cricket career. I wasn't really thinking too much and delivering the ball. My only intent was to try and keep it in a particular spot, and try and deliver from different positions in the crease... I was really enjoying it," he explained.