No one has fought perceptions like Ravichandran Ashwin has over the past five years in Indian cricket. It looked like the white ball pitcher in him would fade away at best from the IPL scene.
When former India T20I captain Virat Kohli was asked in March about Ashwin’s chances of making a comeback in white ball cricket, he said dryly: “The question must also be asked with a some logic. You suggest where you would add Ashwin and play him on the team when someone like Washington is already doing this work for the team. So it’s easy to ask the question, but you should have a logical explanation. -same. ”
Kohli’s speech literally closed the door on Ashwin’s white-ball career in India four years after being excluded from the ODI scheme. Eight months after Kohli’s remark, Ashwin scrupulously scripted a comeback trail in white ball cricket, especially the T20 format. A Sundar spinning finger injury may have opened the door ahead of the T20 World Cup, but to Ashwin’s credit, he was there, ready to seize the opportunity. The masterful fate of 2/23 in the first T20I against New Zealand in Jaipur on Wednesday marked its second coming.
The regime has changed with Rahul Dravid as head coach and Rohit Sharma as captain of T20I and therefore has the fixation on the usefulness of some players.
“He (Dravid) won’t be leaving much to chance, and he will be focusing on the preparation and the process, so that we can bring happiness back to the Indian locker room,” the visibly apprehensive Ashwin told broadcasters. hosts. minutes after India’s victory on Wednesday.
Rohit and Dravid had stressed the need to make the players feel safe in the locker room and to have conversations with them. Ashwin’s statement was the first indication that things were moving in this direction. TOI reported in September that Rohit (then vice-captain) had been pushing for the inclusion of Ashwin in the T20 World Cup squad.
Ashwin hasn’t disappointed since. The reason wrist spinners made a splash in international cricket four years ago was their ability to pick up the wickets in the middle. In an era when the grounds are mostly flat, bats are big, and the limits have narrowed, any captain was happy to trade a few limits for an extra wicket. Finger spinners have been tagged as non-attacking options.
In his first game as full-time captain of India’s T20I, Rohit entered with two spinners ahead of a seasoned Yuzvendra Chahal. “Ashwin has the ability to take wickets in the middle. Both he and Axar Patel have done this job for Delhi Capitals in the IPL,” was Rohit’s clear response.
Since being pulled from India’s white ball plans in 2017, Ashwin has jumped on IPL franchises and worked on evolving his repertoire to become a better white ball pitcher. At the Capitals, he seemed to have reached his peak.
“Ash is a man with a different mindset. He’s more academic. If I had half the skills like him, I would do a lot better. I try to choose how his mind works in different situations. different shots for each hitter. Bahut hi deep thought karta hain. (He thinks really deep). I talk to him about how to handle a hitter who selects me really well. I don’t ask him to teach the variations he has We are talking more about the definition of the field and the state of mind, ”Axar told TOI during the second half of the IPL in October.
Ashwin gave a glimpse of the “deep thinking” that Axar insisted on. “It’s a little tricky, isn’t it, in a T20 game, how much do you throw it? When do you throw it? The windows to attack the batsmen are quite small, so you have to find them and then deliver. those balls, ”Ashwin told the host broadcaster after the game.
“Line and length, you can’t miss much. Identifying the right pace is always a challenge when playing first in a T20 match. be way lower than what you did later in the game. Identifying that rhythm took me a little while. I probably slowed it down a couple of times in the first couple of shots down, buying was better on that court. ”
All of these thoughts culminated in the vixing of a well-placed Mark Chapman after hitting a limit on the previous ball. This ultimately dampened New Zealand’s score.
Ashwin always says he shows up in the net every day to develop a new skill. He compares himself to a scientist in a laboratory. Ask Pant, Ashwin’s captain at the Capitals, he would say how much Ashwin has helped him grow as a wicket keeper while also talking about the nuances of what he does.
Ashwin is 35 years old. It’s his last turn. But this is certainly not the last flicker before its fire dies. He is determined to set the house on fire before leaving the international stage.