Always trust Ravichandran Ashwin to spring something out of the ordinary. Shortly after the 1st ODI ended with India picking up a five-wicket-win over Australia in Mohali to take a 1-0 lead in the series, Ashwin made heads turn when put strapped up those batting pads, put on his helmet and scampered out to bat in the middle of the ground in a late-night practice session. In a highly unusual sight, Ashwin got the nets out and began batting at one of the pitches even as head coach Rahul Dravid turned fielder and took his position at square leg. Ashwin’s post-match stunner left Mark Waugh and Abhishek Nayar, part of the broadcasting panel absolutely flabbergasted, with both hailing the off-spinner’s ever-so-determined attitude.
With just 15 days to go for the World Cup, it comes as no surprise that Ashwin is conjuring every possible effort to ensure he is part of that World Cup squad, which mind you, can be tweaked no later than September 28. After bowling an economical spell of 1/47 off his 10 overs, picking up the wicket of Marnus Labuschagne, the 37-year-old Ashwin rushed in to hone his batting. In accordance with the recent patterns observed in the team management’s decisions, it is evident that they prioritise having players in their lineup who can contribute with both bat and ball. And Ashwin, boasting five Test centuries and one ODI fifty, aligns perfectly with this strategic approach.
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“How cool is that? He is batting right in the centre, he’s got a net out. And that’s where the support staff really works hard. It’s past 10, it’s late and they are still going. He’s got Rahul Dravid at square leg, Vikram Rathour at slips, Mark Waugh at fine leg, so it’s a terrific part of the preparation. I’m sure the management has told him to work on his batting,” former India all-rounder Abhishek Nayar said.
This isn’t the first real sign of Ashwin’s eagerness to bat. A day after he was recalled into India’s squad for the Australia ODIs, Ashwin turned out in a local league match organised by the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association. Representing the Take Solution MRPA, Ashwin walked out to bat, a testament to his top-notch commitment towards the game.
“It’s a great opportunity for me. I have always said over the last 3-4 years that it’s not about what I want to achieve in these opportunities. I just want to enjoy myself, give myself the best chance. When I went back from West Indies, I took a break, played a few club games. The team management has kept me in loop and told me to just stay ready whenever there is a chance. I was just touching base with my fitness. Started bowling a few sessions,” Ashwin said in a BCCI video after his return to India’s ODI set-up.
“I want to bring something different to the table so I have been working on some angles because one-day cricket is not just about spin anymore. It’s more about the angles, the usage of the crease, its depth. I’m trying to put myself in a zone of discomfort, to try and push barriers as always because for me what comes first is the pride of my performance and what best abilities and talent I can showcase.”