Effusive in his praise for Ravinchandran Ashwin, Indian captain Virat Kohli said on Monday the off-spinner is a “priceless” cricketer to have in the team having contributed with both bat and ball in the massive win over New Zealand in the opening Test here.

Ashwin took 10 wickets and also scored a 40-run cameo in the Indian first innings, playing a crucial role in the 197-run win in the match.

b’Virat Kohli/Source: AFP’

“He’s been outstanding for the Indian team. If you see all the impact players in the world, he comes in the top three-four easily. There are quite a few players making big impact for their respective sides. Especially bowlers. Bowlers are the one I feel that win you Test matches and Ashwin is one of them,” Kohli said after India’s big win.

“There’s no doubt that he has been bowling wonderfully well for the last couple of years. He works very hard on his game. He is a very keen thinker of the game. He understands the game very well.”

“He is a very smart cricketer, very intelligent. That shows in his batting as well. He understands the situation and plays accordingly. He knows when to get runs and when to play the situation out accordingly. So it’s priceless to have a cricketer like Ashwin in your Test team,” he said.

b’Ravinchandran Ashwin/Source: PTI’

The captain also spoke on how both Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who shared 16 of the 20 Kiwi wickets in the match, take lead when things do not pan out as planned.

“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’m 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. Both of them are pretty open to hearing suggestions, but when they feel like they are very convinced about what they want to do, they tell you that. And I personally like that as a captain as well,” he said.

b’Cheteshwar Pujara/Source: AFP’

Kohli was also pleased with Cheteshwar Pujara, who he says, has improved a lot as he was now scoring at a brisk pace. Pujara has been criticised for a below average show at number three in the previous West Indies tour.

“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, which for me was a revelation to see Pujara bat that way.”