Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Ravichandran Ashwin is arguably the best spinner in the game right now, but he has issued a warning ahead of the Champions Trophy, telling the opposing teams that he has a few new tricks up his sleeve.
Ashwin enjoyed a lot of success in India’s recent campaign at home as he set a new record for the most wickets in a Test season with 79.
Furthermore, he also became the fastest bowler to take 250 wickets in Test history, needing just 45 Tests to accomplish the feat.
However, the 30-year-old missed the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) due to a sports hernia.
In that time, Ashwin has been training hard and is now raring to make his comeback in England next month.
“I am not too concerned in terms of how short I have been of match practice,” he said. “I am pretty raring to go. The intent of being mentally and physically fresh was very important.
“I was going through an injury which was hampering me from putting my best performance on the park. It was time I took some time out and train pretty hard. All I have done is actually train and try and tick boxes that I thought was necessary. That’s what I have done in the last one and a half months. It has not been about a holiday or anything like that.”
Given how ODI cricket has changed and seems to favour batsmen, Ashwin admitted that he has to adapt with the changes as there is “no point in going in with the same set of skills time and again”.
“There have been a lot of rule changes in terms of what ICC has done to the one-day format of the game. And there is no point in going in with the same set of skills time and again, and let the game change your skill,” he said. “It has been going through my head and I have been working on a lot of stuff based on how the game is changing.
“I might be able to do something new in this tournament hopefully. I think I am equipped enough to do it. Hopefully these two practice games [against New Zealand and Bangladesh] will give me an indication about how well I go in this tournament, and how well my variations will come to fore. So, just hoping that these practice matches can be put to good use and I bring in something new to the table and give something new to the team.”
Ashwin also revealed that he prepares for any limited overs series or tournament with the mindset that the odds are stacked against the bowlers.
“That’s the way the game is,” he said. “I generally expect placid wickets, and that’s the way you prepare for a limited-overs competition.
“I think my biggest strength is adaptation and seeing what lies ahead of me six months down the line. I don’t plan for the next tour or [the] many tours coming up. But I see how the game is shaping up six months down the line, what sort of challenges the game will throw at me and how I can hit back at teams and players, how I can hit back at challenges in terms of rules and in terms of what are the formations happening around.
“I call my own theory as red flags in front of me. I see these red flags and try and circumvent them to get to the distance I want. I don’t want feel surprised when it is thrown at me. That’s exactly how I approached all along, ever since I have had a little bit of maturity in my life. Poker and cricket are same. You go all in, you try and come out on top. If you are not prepared to go all in, there is always going to be a fear of failure and you are always going to come second.”
India triumphed in the last edition of the Champions Trophy in 2013, but when asked if his side can replicate their success next month, Ashwin made it clear that he is not looking that far ahead.
“As far as I am concerned, handling pressure is all about one game at a time,” he added. “If you think too far ahead and try and think you are defending the title, it is going to put unnecessary undue pressure on you. But, as you build up every game and try and gain momentum into the tournament, you start becoming that hot favourite.”