Born in a Tamil Brahmin family, Ravichandran Ashwin is well versed with the “Mantras”. No, not the ones you have in mind, but the ones which he learnt from the streets of Chennai. Hailing from the Coromandel Coast off Bay of Bengal, he took his “Soduku” ball, a finger flicked tennis-ball leg break and used it efficaciously in International Cricket.
Ashwin is a captain’s delight and his spinning hymns often prove to be deceptive for opposition batsmen. He is the fastest Indian bowler to achieve both the 50- and 100-wicket marks in Test Cricket. He has developed greatly as a player and has established his position as India’s leading off-spinner.
Arjuna Award recipient, Ashwin started his career as an opening batsman in junior level cricket. Having experienced little success, he dropped down the order and became an off spinner.
He made his domestic debut for Tamil Nadu in the year 2006, but the turning point of his career was the 2010 edition of Indian Premier League. Representing Chennai Super Kings he stole the limelight by bowling some economical spells, which earned him his maiden International call-up in the limited over formats.
Ashwin was also the leading wicket taker in Champions League T20 in South Africa. It happens rarely that an IPL talent does so well at International level. His reputation as a bowler was growing and he soon earned a call to Indian Test team later that year. He became the 7th Indian bowler to take a fifer in his debut match.
An archetypal bowler, he has a smart cricketing brain. He came and he won the public’s hearts (which obviously is necessary in India) with his all-rounder capabilities. After Kumble’s retirement and some lackluster performances from Harbhajan Singh, India badly needed someone to take up the responsibilities. Out of nowhere, emerged Ashwin and with each passing day he was slowly becoming India’s lead spinner in both the formats.
It wasn’t an overnight success as he had to struggle a lot for his chances. He was the leading wicket taker in the home series against New Zealand, yet he failed to make it to the playing eleven in the following tour to South Africa. Though his name was considered in the 15 member squad for the World Cup 2011, but he was mostly used only as a bench warmer including the Semi-final and Final.
Ashwin finally got a chance to play in the home series against Australia and England and gave match winning performances. He got the Man of the Series award against Kangaroos with a tally of 29 wickets in the series, surpassing Anil Kumble’s record of 27 wickets in a four match series.
Coming to his Bowling style, he is a type of bowler who isn’t afraid to toss the ball. He uses his height to maximum advantage, generating turn and bounce from the pitch. The dipping ball asks some serious questions to the batsman often making the batting troublesome. He has the arm ball and the carrom ball in his armory in addition to his off breaks.
Ashwin has lately relied on his stock ball rather than going for too many variations. This change was fruitful as he found his rhythm back after some overseas bashing. Though Ashwin hasn’t made a significant mark outside the Indian subcontinent, someone who has taken wickets more frequently than any spinner in the history of Test cricket in Asia deserves recognition. He has learnt from his mistakes and has worked hard to cement his place in the side.
His record performance against Sri Lanka give an account of his grown confidence. Ashwin scalped 21 batsmen in the series which included consecutive dismissals of one of Sri Lanka’s all-time great batsmen Kumar Sangakkara.
Appreciating his performance Team Director Ravi Shastri said, “We know he has got the brain of an astronaut. He has combined that intelligence with calmness and patience now. That bodes well for us because now the astronaut’s mind is helping Team India take flight. For me Ashwin is the best off-spinner in the world at the moment.”
Indian Test team Captain Virat Kohli heaped praise on him. “Ashwin has been a champion bowler for us. He’s been taking wickets for us everywhere. Even on the Australia tour he was more aggressive with the ball. Even in his mindset, he’s bowling in a more aggressive manner. It’s almost impossible to get him away. He’s bowling beautifully right now and I’m glad to see him with this kind of mindset, attacking the batsmen all the time”, reckoned Kohli after the recently concluded series against the Lankans.
With the South Africa series coming up, Ashwin certainly has the chance to become the best spinner in the current scenario. He will surely add some more wickets to the tally of 145 Test and 139 ODI scalps. It will be a great contest against the top side in the World.
The Proteas are aware of his strengths and will look to play him patiently. “I am not going to overwork myself in the lead up to the series. I am building on my strength aspect – it’s my shoulder and body strength that will sustain me in trying situations”, said Ashwin in a recent interview.
Last but not the least, the whole team at EssentiallySports wishes Ravichandran Ashwin a very Happy Birthday and hopes that he continues to win matches for the side. As legendary spinner Shane Warne says, “Part of the art of bowling spin is to make the batsman think something special is happening when it isn’t”, we too hope that he continues to create magic on the field.
I am basically a Cricketopath pursuing civil engineering at VIT University. Well a line that i read somewhere pretty much sums up what i am- "She asked me- Why do you write?" I replied- Why do you breathe.... A poet, singer and a blogger, besides being a handy engineer.