India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Friday said that he should not be made a villain for bowling one of the two no-balls which proved to be a crucial factor in India’s World T20 semifinal loss to the West Indies.
Ashwin’s was one of the no-balls which gave Man-of-the-Match Lendl Simmons a reprieve and helped him anchor West Indies’ successful chase of a stiff target of 193 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
“The day I went back home my dog had heat stroke. He had fits. It just showed me what is more important and what is very very important in life. I did not turn up a piece of paper for next three days. I haven’t read about what people had said,” Ashwin said ahead of his new franchise Rising Pune Supergiants’ opening IPL game against title-holders Mumbai Indians on Saturday.
“There have been good enough journalists and knowledgeable people who said I had not bowled a no-ball for ages and to have bowled one no-ball, I don’t become a villain. If that’s the perception I don’t know how to counter that,” the bowler said at a media conference.
Ashwin was widely castigated in the media for bowling a no-ball - being a spinner - off which he had Simmons caught at point, only for the batsman to escape on 15 and play a match-winning innings that knocked India out of the World T20 on March 31.
Ashwin took umbrage when a scribe asked him how he felt bowling with the wet ball because of dew, as the West Indies inched closer to India’s total.
“When there was dew I did not bowl. It’s better you ask someone who actually bowled, to be very honest. I don’t know how it felt with the dew on. It’s very amusing because with the first 12 balls I bowled, I created a wicket opportunity as well,” he retorted.
Asked further that it was captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who had said at the post match media conference that the dew had affected his team’s bowling attack, Ashwin answered, “I don’t know what the captain said.”
At the end of the conference, Ashwin confronted the journalist who asked him about the dew factor to find out the publication he represented.
“I am not blaming you. But you should be responsible about what you write as millions of people read it and form an opinion,” said the player to the nonplussed correspondent.
Dhoni had blamed dew and the two no-balls bowled by Ashwin and then Hardik Pandya, who too had Simmons caught off a foot infringement after the batsman had reached 50, squarely for his bowlers’ poor display in his post-match media presser.
“You have to realise it was half an hour early start. A bad toss to lose. So, when they started batting the first few overs were fine, but after that there was a considerable amount of dew which meant the spinners couldn’t bowl how they would have liked to,” Dhoni had said.
“It was coming on nicely and the ball was getting wet, so that was the difference between the first innings and second innings. The surface had some assistance for the spinners, it was gripping (when India batted), but in the second innings there wasn’t much in it for them. It was quite difficult to score 190 (batting first),” were Dhoni’s words.
Looking forward to playing for a new franchise under Dhoni, who had captained him at the suspended Chennai Super Kings for eight years, Ashwin said he had been waiting for the new challenge.
“It’s a fresh start, it’s a new team for me and it’s going to be a new challenge which I had always been looking forward to. It’s very important to get into the new environment, see how much you can get better and add value to the team. It’s very exciting and I am looking forward to it.”
Conceding that it was a bit difficult for the Indian squad’s players to plunge into the IPL following back-to-back campaigns in the Asia Cup and World T20, Ashwin said the difference was that the T20 league was very fast-paced.
“It’s going to be difficult, no hiding it. It’s going to be taxing - mentally and physically. The thing with IPL is it’s very fast paced.
“If you get in and if you try and beat your own odds and try to look for improvements during this time, it’s going to help you as a cricketer and hold you in good stead throughout the year,” said the off-spinner.