IPL 2019: Adversity no deterrent for steely Ravichandran Ashwin | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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IPL 2019: Adversity no deterrent for steely Ravichandran Ashwin

Hindustan Times, Mumbai | BySanjjeev K Samyal
Apr 10, 2019 10:27 AM IST

IPL 2019: Kings XI Punjab skipper Ravichandran Ashwin has shown real steel and channelled all the negativity to fuel his performance.

Ravichandran Ashwin can be excused for feeling that the whole world has conspired against him. First, the pucca Tamilian was forced to play the role of a Punjabi after the IPL franchise from his home city, Chennai Super Kings, only made a token bid for him at the auction.

Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates after dismissing Sunrisers Hyderabad batsman Vijay Shankar.(AFP)
Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates after dismissing Sunrisers Hyderabad batsman Vijay Shankar.(AFP)

Then, he has seen his currency with the national team slip, falling out of favour in the limited overs set-up. There’s no mention of him in the names being discussed for the World Cup squad which will be announced in five days time.

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Even this year’s IPL season began on a rough note; he was on the receiving end of intense scrutiny for ‘Mankading’ the Rajasthan Royals batsman, Jos Buttler, with the MCC declaring that the act was against the spirit of the game.

To his credit, Ashwin has shown real steel and channelled all the negativity to fuel his performance. He has been an inspired bowler and a leader in the first half of the T20 league. Kings XI Punjab have taken the fight to every team they’ve played, and sit pretty at third spot after six rounds.

READ: IPL Points Table and updated Orange Cap & Purple Cap list

While the national selectors have justifiable reasons for their preferred combination of wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal—as they provide a more attacking option—Ashwin can be satisfied with his own efforts.

Despite the cold shoulder, his confidence in his abilities as a limited overs bowler has not been dented. He has used the IPL to serve another reminder that he has an effective game for the shorter version. After six matches, he leads the wickets tally for Kings XI with seven, and is seventh overall. He occupies the 7thspot in the all-time list as well, with 117 wickets in 131 games. There have been many cases where success in the IPL has fetched players’ selection in the one-day team; Ashwin himself being one.

Compared to the last two times India played a multi-nation 50-over tournament in England and Wales—the 2013 and 2016 Champions Trophies—the team’s bowling looks stronger, and the batting weaker. That is the argument in favour of Ashwin, who is an able lower order batsman. India’s attack in England is likely to comprise Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar; a potent bowling arsenal but also a long tail that offers no cover in the case of a batting collapse.

CONTROLLED VARIATIONS

While sometimes Ashwin has the tendency to over-experiment, this season the variations have worked out well. Last week, wanting to make a statement in front of his home crowd, he gave the Chennai Super Kings batsmen a testing time at Chepauk—using the crease, changing the angle of his delivery, even bowling side arm, and varying both his pace and lengths.

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As Ashwin bluntly said ahead of the IPL, he is out of the World Cup equation due to their (team management and selectors) perception that wrist spinners are more effective in ODIs.

FIGHTING UNIT

Kings XI Punjab’s batting is yet to fire fully, but Ashwin has galvanised them into a fighting unit. They have responded to his aggressive style. There is intensity and purpose in the team’s play, which has been missing from the Kings XI performances for the past few years. That gritty, fighting attitude was visible in their effort against high-flyers Sunrisers Hyderabad, when they got home with one ball to spare.

They now run into Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium, a venue where he tasted success as a World Cup winner in 2011.

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