Ravichandran Ashwin has been a pivotal part of the Chennai Super Kings’ slow bowling army since the third season of the IPL, when he got a fair run for the first time. As a matter of fact he is one of the few cricketers who have been able to make it to the Indian national on the back of his performances in the IPL. However, it must also be added that he has been remarkably consistent in the domestic circuit as well which has further strengthened his credentials as a world class off-spinner. When T20 cricket was first introduced, there was a general belief that spinners would cease to have any say in that particular form of cricket but it is spinners like Ashwin and others who have successfully proven the theory wrong. At this point in time, Ashwin is one of the best off-spinners in the IPL who will surely grow in influence as he secures more game time under his belt.
The best T20 bowlers are those who have the ability to dry up the runs with their variety and in turn induce a mistake of the batsmen, which is exactly what makes Ashwin the spearhead of the CSK spin attack. In addition to that, he is an extremely flexible bowler as a result of which he is equally at ease if the captain asks him to open the bowling in a tight contest or gives him the ball in dying overs when the batsmen are looking to hit everything out of the park. Over the past few seasons, he has also developed plenty of variations like the ‘carrom ball’, the doosra as well as a delivery in which he pauses for a split second in his delivery stride to watch the batsman’s movement; all these tricks surely provide him with the perfect ammunition to thrive in T20 cricket.
Since Ashwin is a Chennai boy, he was picked up by the CSK as a local player at a fixed salary since he had not yet represented India till then. However, his true value as a cricketer was revealed in the 2011 auction. Although Ashwin was not retained by the CSK, they were determined to keep him in the side and when his name came up they simply did not throw in the towel during the bid in which the only other bidder were the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Eventually Ashwin went to CSK for a stupendous $850,000.
The very best players rise to the occasion when the stakes are at their highest and so was the case in the IPL Final in 2011 when Ashwin picked up his career best figures of 3/16 in 4 overs. He opened the bowling in that game and picked up the wicket of the marauding Chris Gayle off the 4th ball of the second innings to make it almost impossible for the RCB to chase down the target of 206 runs that had been set by the CSK.
If someone is looking for consistency in a bowler in the IPL then one should not look past Ravichandran Ashwin who has managed to maintain the same level of impact across the last 4 editions of the IPL. It cannot be denied that the 2011 was his best in terms of the numbers but there has been no wild fluctuation in his performance in the following seasons.An overall economy rate of 6.34 at a strike rate of 22.39 across 67 matches is a clear indicator of the fact the Ravichandran Ashwin is a match winner par excellence.
Did you know?
Most students in Southern Indian states study engineering after high school but most of them would testify that completing the 4 year course as a full time cricketer is no mean feat. Ashwin studied Information Technology at one of the top engineering colleges in Chennai – the SSN College of Engineering– and played for the Under 19 tournaments without compromising his education one bit. Perhaps that is the reason why he has such an excellent grasp of flight and trajectories when he has the ball in his hand. Ashwin got married exactly a week after he made his debut against the West Indies in November 2011 to Prithi Narayanan, who has known the cricketer since they were kids.
By Soham Samaddar
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