Ravichandran Ashwin, who had a memorable series in the West Indies with the bat and ball, is pleased with the way he is playing. He believes Anil Kumble is a positive influence on the side and credits the coach for helping the team get better. In an exclusive chat with Express, Ashwin says M Vijay should open the innings. Excerpts…

How was the West Indies experience?

It was very good. Firstly, it’s never easy on a tour of West Indies. Nothing is perfect in terms of practice, logistics and jet lag. But this time we had good practice games which helped us acclimatise.

What did you learn from Anil Kumble?

You can’t learn overnight. He is a big, positive influence on the team. He understands what the bowlers need. He helped the bowlers to give their best and also gave them the right amount of rest. He passed on his experience of Caribbean wickets. They’re slow. So patience was the most important thing.

Did India miss a bowling coach?

We had a batting coach in Sanjay Bangar. Abhay Sharma took care of fielding. Then Kumble was there. I’m not sure about the decision to not have a bowling coach. But Kumble’s experience was very helpful. In terms of having a specialist coach, it’s up to the BCCI.Would you like to have a bowling coach?

B Arun was fabulous. He was one of the pillars for me as far as a bowling is concerned. He brought me back on right path. If the BCCI wants Arun back, I’ll be delighted.

There is competition among openers. M Vijay has mentioned he is willing to bat lower down if required. What’s his best slot?Vijay is one of the finest openers India has produced. In recent times, there has been nobody who came close to batting like him. He got runs all over the world and won games. He should stick to opening. He must be knowing what he’s doing, because I see him as one of the best openers in the world.

What about New Zealand?

You can’t take any series lightly. We can take the momentum from the West Indies tour, but you can’t rest on your laurels. We’ve to start fresh.Did you enjoy captaining Dindigul Dragons?

At the draft stage because of the bid amounts, we were at the bottom (seventh) and slightly at a disadvantage in taking players. We were clear to go with a strong bowling and compromised on batting. But we’re still one of the best batting sides in TNPL. If I join, the batting will be bolstered. We’ve a solid young team that’s doing well.

Any reason for not playing outstation games?

I’ve details to sort out. I’ve to take a little bit of rest. I decided to play the first game in Chennai. I will join the team shortly.

Your take on the Duleep Trophy pink ball experiment and neutral venues for Ranji Trophy?

I’ve not played with pink ball. I can’t comment on that. But anything that is going to help cricket get better and interest more people is welcome.On new TN coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar?

I’ve been associated with him in the Pune team in IPL. Kanitkar has a very good cricketing base. As a state, as a group of cricketers, we need a person from outside as coach. I’m not saying it’ll really work but no harm in trying. He has won a couple of Ranji Trophies. If he brings something new, be it enjoyment, or relaxed culture, because all of us are intense, it’ll be wonderful to have him.