When Virat Kohli miscued a pull on 12, it wasn’t just the Indian fans who had their hearts in their mouths. In the dressing room, R Ashwin says he was agonised for a moment and wished they had bowled Australia out for 20-runs less.
“When you get older, the recovery time seems to take longer! It was so hot today, (after our bowling) I was in an ice bath and by the time I ate, the umpires had already gone in. Then soon Ishan Kishan fell. Then two more!
When Virat skied that ball, I ran to the [adjoining] Bell’s road (laughs). I was like, ‘Dei! what’s happening here da, maybe we should have got them out for 20 runs less!” Ashwin said on Star Sports Tamil. “And when he [Mitch Marsh] dropped the catch I went, ‘yabbaaa, (phew!) and came back!”
The former India opener S Ramesh and commentator put Ashwin on the spot, asking a direct question about the “unfair” perceptions around him that has led to him not being selected.
“I have maintained that it was a tactical error when they didn’t pick you for the original world cup squad,” Ramesh told Ashwin. “To see you as only effective against left-handers I think it’s unfair. We never saw Shane Warne like that. You are a quality spinner, not an offspinner. My question is did you also see it as unfair?” Ramesh asked.
“When I am not in the team, there is no use pointing at someone else and blaming him. I don’t want to think like that, I just want to take accountability for my performance and think about what I can bring to the table,” Ashwin said. “I don’t look at those perceptions sir. The people had that thought process at one point, but I can’t see it like that. Since I know they used to see me like that, I have strived to up my game and do something different.”
And then he came to the unfairness part of the question and to his selection.
“I don’t know whether it’s fair or unfair – life is a circle, as they say. If there is honesty in what you do, I think people will notice that. That’s what has happened now,” Ashwin said. “I don’t want to linger on at that moment; looking back, staying in that (any unpleasant) moment is not worth it. You have to move on.”
Ashwin also revealed that he was “nervous” before the start of the game, and until 3-4 overs.
“I don’t know what to say. I was very nervy before the game. I had texted my wife and friends that even at 35, at donkey’s age, I am feeling like this! (Laughs). Initially for one or two overs, my speeds and line were a bit off … My nerves were because of this: a game in Chennai against big rivals like Australia. This is the world cup, we are playing for a larger cause, for the people of the country.”
Ashwin also made another interesting point about how the afternoon drift at the stadium that he wasn’t used to. “It took 7-10 balls to settle down. I have played at Chepauk a lot but it’s been a long while since I have played an afternoon game here. There was a cross breeze and the ball was drifting a touch. From the 3rd or 4th over, I knew I got this: it’s a feeling you get as a bowler that I can make the ball talk the way I want it. On different grounds, you get different cues.”