Kohli heaps praise on `priceless` Ashwin after Kanpur heroics

Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh)[India], Sept.26 : Describing Ravichandran Ashwin as a `priceless` player, India Test skipper Virat Kohli has praised the premier off-spinner for contributing outstandingly with both bat and ball in his side's massive 197-run victory over New Zealand in their historic 500th Test here at Green Park in Kanpur on Monday.

Ashwin once again hogged the limelight, bagging six wickets to add to his first-innings haul of four wickets as New Zealand were bundled out for 236 in their second innings while chasing an improbable target of 434 runs for victory.

This was for the fifth time that Ashwin has taken a 10-wicket haul in the longest format of the game. The 27-year-old insisted that Ashwin has been performing wonderfully in the last couple of years and that he has always played a pivotal role in helping the side clinch victory.

"He has been outstanding for the Indian team. He comes in the top three or four impactful players in Test cricket around the world easily. There are quite a few players who have clinched biggest wins for their respective sides, especially bowlers in Test matches, and Ashwin is one of them.

There is no doubt he had worked really well in the past couple of years," Kohli said in the post-match press conference after his side took a 1-0 lead in the three-match Test series against the Kane Williamson-led side.

Labelling Ashwin as a `keen thinker` and `smart cricketer`, Kohli believes the off-spinner was well aware of the ways to score runs and play according to different situations.

"He is a very keen thinker of the game. He works hard on his game. He understands the game really well. Very smart cricketer, very intelligent and that shows in his batting as well. He understands the situation. He plays accordingly. He knows when to get runs and when to play the situation out accordingly. So, it is priceless to have a cricketer like Ashwin in your Test team," asserted Kohli. Meanwhile, Jadeja was adjudged as the Player of the Match for his five-wicket haul in the first innings and scoring an unbeaten 50 in the second innings.

He also remained not out on 42 in India's first innings total of 318. Ashwin and Jadeja also broke New Zealand's staunch resistance in their first innings to give the hosts the advantage on the third day after bowling out the Kane Williamson-led side for 262.

"I like the fact that at times when they feel like we are trying too much as a team, both of them can come back to you and say that I am trying to bowl to this one plan and let's see how that goes.

As a captain it always gives you more assurance that both these guys obviously know what they are doing and they are going to pitch the ball in the right areas.

But at times when they are tired, when they are not able to think as clearly - everyone needs suggestions, everyone needs a chat every now and then," Kohli said about captaining Ashwin and Jadeja.

The swashbuckling batsman also could not stop himself from gushing over top-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who contributed 62 and 78 in the first and second innings respectively.

Insisting that Pujara had worked really well on his game, Kohli believes the 28-year-old has the ability to capitalize under pressure.

"He is someone who absorbs the pressure really well but after a certain stage in the innings there comes a time when the team needs runs.

That's where we felt that he has the ability to capitalise. It was just about conveying that to him. He has worked hard on his game. He scored at a good strike rate in the Duleep trophy. Even on this wicket, he was scoring at 65, almost 70 strike rate. For me it was a revelation, to see Pujara bat that way, because he used to bat that way initially. Especially at home. That's exactly what we wanted him to do. We didn't want him to go into a shell. We want Pujara to bat to his potential," he said. The second match of the three-match series will start in Kolkata on Friday..

Source: ANI