Before India’s first ODI against Australia at Mohali on Friday, Ravichandran Ashwin spoke fondly of what playing for the Indian cricket team meant to him. The off-spinner bowled his quota of 10 overs, giving away 47 runs while claiming the wicket of Marnus Labuschagne in the first ODI at IS Bindra Stadium. It was his first wicket in ODIs after 611 days.
“For me, Indian cricket is the highest prerogative. To put my best foot forward and be in a state to contribute (to the national team) and to put myself in a situation that I can turn the game on its head… that’s every cricketer’s dream. When push comes to shove, when the game starts I want to be enjoying myself. I’ve been in a contribution zone for the Indian team for a decade and a half. For me Indian cricket is very close to my heart. I’m not a man of tattoos but the tattoo (of Indian cricket) is well inside my heart,” Ashwin told BCCI’s website before the India vs Australia match.
The cricketer went on to add: “Whatever it is: I’m with the team, not with the team, sitting there, watching there… I’d be playing with good vibes or watching with good vibes. If at all I get a chance to contribute and play a zone of contribution to the team, I’d be more than happy to do that.”
Ashwin’s inclusion in the team for the Australia series had raised expectations that the series was a ‘test’ for him to be picked in the 15-man squad for the World Cup. There are question marks over Axar Patel playing at the World Cup after he endured a quadricep tear in Colombo during the Asia Cup.
Working on something ‘new’
The off-spinner in question, meanwhile, was just happy to live up to his own expectations.
“The team management has kept me in the loop whenever they said there could be a chance. Just stay ready, just in case. I have kept expectations largely from myself. It’s easier to deal with expectations one has about themselves, in terms of the pride I hold in my performance… not leaving any stone unturned in practice. But when you have expectations from things you cannot control, you’ll always be left with disappointment because it’s not in your hands,” Ashwin said.
He went on to add that in training, he has been working on something new.
“I want to bring something different to the table, something different from my perspective. I’ve been working on some angles because ODI cricket is not just about spin anymore. It’s not about the angle of spin or something. It’s about the angle that you can present at the crease by using the depth of the crease. I’m trying to put myself in a zone of discomfort to try and push barriers as always.
“What comes first for me is the pride of my performance and what best ability and talent I can showcase when I am playing,” he added.