IPL?2019: ‘I am on top of the pile’ among spinners – R Ashwin

 

Ravichandran Ashwin says he ‘prides in being a fierce competitor’. Considering the challenge that the veteran of 111 ODIs and 65 Tests has faced from the younger Indian spin brigade in recent times, he has to be competitive to stay in the race.
The 32-year-old Ashwin was last seen in ODI colours in June 2017 and has not made it to the World Cup squad despite being a top choice for Tests. In the IPL, however, he has led Kings XI Punjab from the front, being their top bowler with 14 wickets in 12 matches and an economy rate of 7.21.
Whether or not Ashwin’s KXIP reaches the play-offs depends a lot on the results of the last two league games. Ahead of the crucial fixtures, Ashwin talks to Hindustan Times on his bowling, his views on wrist-spin, as well as tackling disappointments as captain.
If you look at my IPL career, it’s been a bit up and down. A fair lot of it has been due to the amount I have bowled in the last few years. I didn’t bowl (full quota of) four overs in many of those games. Whereas last year and this year, I have bowled more (after coming to Kings XI Punjab). Last year, I was pretty economical but a spinner needs to keep reinventing himself. I like to do new things, learn new things and am not afraid of trying different things because T20 is one format where the bowlers need to contend with the fact that they will get hit. Getting hit is a part and parcel of the game but you should be a fierce competitor, which I am, and I really pride myself in that.
Your good show as an off-spinner comes at a time when the perception is that wrist-spinners are more attacking options.
When you say it’s a perception, it is related to a group of people who believe in it. It’s always going to happen because people will have to make decisions, whoever they are. The decision makers will have to pride themselves in the kind of decisions they make. If that (wrist-spinners being more attacking) is a perception, I would definitely take it upon myself to break that because all I can do is perform as best as I can.
When T20 started, everybody said the spinners had no role. Then they said that the wrist-spinners do really struggle because they can’t land the ball accurately. If you ask me, right now some of the most inconsistent bowlers are the most successful ones in T20 format because landing the ball in similar spots is not fetching a lot of rewards. So, in my opinion, the wheel has gone from A to B and it will again come from B to A . It’s just a cycle, it is going to keep changing.
Who is the best spinner in the IPL so far?
Once I have become an expert and I am paid for it, I would do that job (assess other spinners). But right now, I would like to think that I am right up there and I have been for a long time now. It’s my 11th season of the IPL, so I would like to think I have done a fairly good job. I have never shied away from competing with anyone. I am right on top of the pile. But look, there are going to be people who will be better than you and you will be overtaken at some stage.
You said you are open to reinventing. How do you do that?
In one way or the other, MS Dhoni has played a critical part in (developing) that thinking of mine because I have taken lot of flak from a lot of experts and cricketers for being a little too innovative, trying to do a lot of things and trying new things. As a cricketer I have also gone through the phase of trying to be rudimentary, bowling the stock balls. MS has always maintained that my strength has been being innovative, being the person who always reinvents the wheel and that has stuck in my head.