R. Ashwin: I have evolved as a T20 bowler – T20 World Cup 2021

Ravichandran Ashwin returned to T20Is after four years. The last appearance, before the T20 World Cup 2021 fixture against Afghanistan here on Wednesday, came against the West Indies in July 2017.

Overall, this was also Ashwin’s first appearance for India since the World Test Championship final against New Zealand in Southampton in June. He was not part of the Tests in England despite being a member of the touring squad.

Varun Chakravarthy’s calf strain handed a chance to Ashwin, who returned handsome figures of 2/14. On Thursday, he opened up on his prolonged wait in a press conference.ย 


On the return to India T20I side after four years…

The news that I got selected for the World Cup was heartening. I had some special dreams of getting into the World Cup, wanting to do special things for the team. After a point in time, more than trying to prove anybody else right or wrong, itโ€™s more about trying to prove it to yourself. You also have something to achieve for the team. Unfortunately, after the first two losses, I did feel a bit low about it and wasn’t a special feeling. It’s never a special feeling when you lose games. Maybe the chance of qualification took a bit of a dent. But after yesterday’s win, we still do have our fingers crossed and hope things go right. Barring that, it was quite a special night. Everything I wanted to execute fell in place.ย 

On self-motivation amid prolonged absence from games…

I believe life is a circle. For some people, itโ€™s a small one. For some, itโ€™s a large one, which is definitely not in our hands. For me, understanding the battles in my life and career is something I have done very well over the last couple of years. Whenever Iโ€™ve had a very good stretched pattern of good form, or whenever itโ€™s been the other way, I once had some deep ridges to go through, some long periods of lull I’ve had to go through. I don’t want to read too much into it as to why those lulls have happened, but that’s a pattern I have embraced in my life. So staying humble through good periods and success is a statement a lot of people make. I’ve firmly embraced it, and I’ve lived it. You have to keep preparing, keep working hard, expecting an opportunity will just turn up at your doorstep one day. And when it happens, you’ve got all the options to break open doors. That’s what life is all about. It’s very easy to lose motivation, hope and close those doors, hide behind or keep complaining, but that’s something that I definitely will not do. You put three stumps anywhere and ask me to play a game at this stage of my life, I would do it happily.

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On the balance between picking wickets and choking the runs…

I am making an attempt for a lot of people who are actually consuming this game and also giving expert opinions. With every year, the game leaves our realms and teaches us something because it is so fast-paced. People are trying to get that one per cent advantage through various technologies. I feel the understanding of the game is still backward in so many ways. When you call upon a bowler and say he’s got to pick wickets, they’re talking about lengths. There are different plans for fast bowlers and spinners. And there are certain lengths that a bowler cannot afford to bowl, like he bowls in a Test match, especially for a spinner. Wicket-taking is something that’s seen as something that just happens, but it’s not like that. A lot of experts and wise men who have played the game say that cricket is a game of partnership. For every wicket that a bowler is picking, there’s an over that’s been bowled before or after that’s created that wicket. And every wicket that falls through a middle over is the result of a few dot balls played by a batter or bowled by another bowler. I cannot shirk my responsibility of bowling dot balls. In the process, I am getting wickets. I also need to keep in mind the interest of the team and what the team expects from me on that particular ball.

On bowling with a conventional spinner…

The perception of finger spin needs to change, I think. Since 2017, I was going through a very good phase in my Test career, and I felt like I was bowling amazing stock balls. I didn’t require anything else at that stage. But like I said, the circles stop. There are stations at every single place, and that Champions Trophy final was one of those stations where I had to halt and think about my career. I’ve evolved as a T20 bowler. I’ve bowled a lot more deliveries. People are terming them as carrom balls and arm balls. But those are very subtle. I’m trying to create different angles through different seam positions. I’ve got so many more options than what I used to have before. When I bowl to a right-hander, I think like a left-handed spinner or a leg spinner. When I bowl to a left-hander, I think like an off-spinner.

Rahul Dravid, a fresh beginning with new challenges

On Rahul Dravid’s appointment as head coach…

I think Rahul has got the immense depth of knowledge and good wishing for anything he has done in life. He has got an amazing vision, somebody who has done the hard yard. He has gone through the journey and the grind of being in the NCA. I think he knows what’s in store, what’s in the future, who’s playing right now. He’s played with some of us inside this dressing room. He also knows all the young boys. If there is anyone where you can pull every bit of knowledge you can pull from, itโ€™s Rahul.

R. Ashwin with Rahul Dravid (right) during a Test match against the West Indies in New Delhi in 2011. ย  – ย FILE PHOTO/ S. Subramanium


On dressing room discussions about semifinal chances…

The discussion we need to have now is how we’re going to go about the couple of games we are left with. Everyone is planning and wanting to go on a real high. It’s a funny game, and Afghanistan has played good cricket. A lot of our hopes rest with them as well. All the very best to them. I really wish we could provide physio support to them to play well in the park, and that is all we can hope for. Pakistan has played wonderful cricket. We just have fallen short of what we wanted to do in the first two games.

On the importance of family while living in bio-bubbles…

Some of my friends and acquaintances still do not get the concept of a bubble. They actually think bubbles mean we are living in a hotel and playing games. They want to meet us. But we can’t. We live within rooms just trying to create some environment where we are communicating with each other and trying to play a few team building games here and there, and that is all we’ve been doing for the last eight to 10 months. Without my family, I would struggle. I continue to owe a lot to them. Many times when the team loses, they put pictures of the family going out. People go after us saying, what are you doing? You’re on holiday with your family and all that. We’re hardly on a holiday. They’ve played more than a small role in what’s happened in the last few months. Off the field, we are also human beings, and we also have a family. We need to have that sort of space and cushion to go out there and play the next day. I’m extremely thankful to my wife and to my kids for having done this.

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