You'll struggle to find an Indian cricketer from the last two decades who hasn't grown up watching Sachin Tendulkar in awe. R. Ashwin, the young offie, is the latest India entrant from the fan club.
The fact that he's going to get a chance to interact with Tendulkar has got Ashwin as excited as the India call-up itself. “I've never interacted with him, just watched him from a distance in awe. As a kid, whenever I was feeling down or frustrated, I would tell myself 'one day I will play with Sachin' just to lift myself,” the offspinner said before joining the squad.
Ashwin sounds like any other awestruck youngster while talking about Tendulkar, but is otherwise very calm and composed for someone on the threshold of making his debut.
One would expect a youngster who had some inkling of getting a national call-up to be bustling with anticipation and nervous energy when the team is being picked. But this engineering student said he was completely relaxed, expecting nothing. “I was blank on the day the team was announced. Of course, I knew that Harbhajan Singh might not be available, but I was not expecting anything,” he said. “When you have high expectations, it can lead to disappointment, so I just prefer to stay blank and take things as they come.”
And if he was unperturbed ahead of his selection, he isn't losing sleep ahead of what could be his debut game. “I'm not the kind who gets too nervous before a game. Not the kind who will lose sleep or anything. I try to plan and prepare in advance so that I'm at ease mentally. If I've got my preparation right then I'm not nervous. Of course, there's always excitement before a big game, and that stays with me till the moment I field a ball. Once I get a feel of the ball I'm fine.”
Mention Sachin, and the control and calm dissolve once more. But that's something you don't grudge any youngster.