Sri Lanka in India

‘Ashwin has more variations than Jadeja, Kuldeep’: Saha feels off-spinner is most difficult to face

The India wicket-keeper is looking forward to facing the spin attack from behind the stumps when their side face Sri Lanka in the first Test in Kolkata.

India’s wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha on Monday heaped praise on off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, stating that the tweaker posed a challenge for him to keep behind the stumps, but maintained that the Tamil Nadu star was ahead of others for the number of variations he had at his disposal.

“Ashwin is ahead of others,” Saha said while speaking to reporters ahead of India’s first Test against Sri Lanka in Kolkata. “He has got many variations, also the length varies, so it’s tough against him. He has more variation than (Ravindra) Jadeja, Kuldeep (Yadav).

India boast of three spinners – Ashwin, left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and left-arm chinaman Kuldeep Yadav – all are very different from each other.

Ashwin and Jadeja will be back in the India fold after a lengthy spell away after being rested during the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand.

Saha, who is part of the Indian team only in the longer format, is looking forward to keeping stumps to the two, who are resuming their national team service.

“We have played many matches in Ranji, India A and during practice,” Saha said. “The more you keep, the better idea you develop. It becomes easier after a point. I’ve always played with them in all my 28 Tests.”

“Your 50 per cent job is done mainly by reading the hand at the point of release then you see how it bounces off the pitch and turns. The challenge is to hold on to all the balls, even if it turns or not,” he added.

Asked whether they would play three spinners, he said: “Ultimately we will decide as per the wicket and see who gets maximum purchase from the wicket.”

Among the pacers, Saha picked Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami as the seam bowlers who pose a bigger challenge than swing.

“The ball wobbles after it goes past and it becomes tough for the wicketkeepers too. But being swing bowlers, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar there’s not much of a problem.”

Aiming for win at Eden Gardens

Saha said the team is looking to hit the ground running in the three-Test series with a win at the Eden Gardens.

“We are yet to see the wicket but the first target is to win the first Test and get momentum to win the series,” Saha said after Indian team’s first practice session ahead of the opening Test against Sri Lanka here from November 16.

Not looking too far ahead of the South Africa series, beginning with Cape Town Test on January 6, Saha said it was about taking it match by match.

“Every match is important and poses a different challenge, there’s nothing like preparation. We will go match by match. If we do better here then we will think of the SA series.”

He may have stepped down from the captaincy, but MS Dhoni is still seen overseeing the fielding in ODIs from behind the stumps and Saha said he also gives his inputs to the captain.

“The team management has decided that anyone can give a feedback. Kohli is usually in the slip cordon so I convey my inputs. But the ultimate decision is of the captain.”

He added the drill is the same during a decision review.

“It’s about being confident and conveying it to the captain. You should never have any doubt,” he said.

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.