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IND vs ENG: ‘One of the turning points of my life was 2012 England series,’ says Ashwin ahead of milestone 100th Test


More than the destination, the journey has been special for Ravichandran Ashwin.

Back in November 2011, when he donned the whites for India for the first time, little did he imagine that 13 years later he would go on to feature in his 100th Test – becoming the 14th cricketer from the country to enter the ‘Hundred Club’.

But then, some dreams do come true. While it took hard work and sheer dedication to come so far, for Ashwin, it was also about bouncing back from the lows and making peace with the fact that he would often be missing out on key fixtures despite his skills and vast experience.“

ALSO READ | ‘Playing 100 Tests means a hell of a lot,’ says Bairstow

It’s always disappointing to not play a particular game for your country, especially when you are doing well. But you gotta make peace with it because it was in the best interest of the team,” Ashwin said on Tuesday.

“I don’t think any captain or player wants to leave out a player that they feel can be of use in that particular game. From their perspective, they made the best decision. Even though you are disappointed, you will have to understand that it’s a team game…”

And, it’s this mindset that has worked so well for Ashwin. Taking things in his stride, he has constantly evolved as a spinner and the fact that he went past the 500-wicket mark in the third Test in Rajkot to become only the second Indian to achieve the feat is a testament to his indomitable spirit.

Back in 2012, when England toured India and clinched the Test series, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen ripped apart Ashwin – dashing the confidence of the then young gun. Those were troublesome times, but eventually, he could turn the tide.

“One of the turning points of my life was the England series when Cook came here and made all those runs along with Pietersen, who had a great game in Mumbai. It has been spoken about a lot. Leading into the next series against Australia at home, there was a lot of noise about me being left out of the team. Recently, one of the selectors who was involved then, also had a chat with me about it,” Ashwin said.

India’s Ravichandran Ashwin successfully appeals for Jonathan Trott’s wicket on the second day of the first Test against England at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera in November 2012.

India’s Ravichandran Ashwin successfully appeals for Jonathan Trott’s wicket on the second day of the first Test against England at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera in November 2012.
| Photo Credit:
THE HINDU

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India’s Ravichandran Ashwin successfully appeals for Jonathan Trott’s wicket on the second day of the first Test against England at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera in November 2012.
| Photo Credit:
THE HINDU

At that time, it was a bit of a nervous moment for him.

“I did not know where it came from. I have played three series. I’d had my first series in Australia. I had bowled really well in Melbourne and had a decent Test in Adelaide. I had been a player of the series twice before that and (then) I was on the verge of being left out. I was very young and I felt, ‘Is that all? Is that the time I’ve got here?’”

But when he went back and reflected on it, there was one thing that dawned on Ashwin.

“And that is a wonderful lesson I have still kept with me all these years down the line. Whatever happens, we can hold a lot of complaints against somebody external or blame it on another individual. But for me, if you look internally, you can improve at least by another 5 per cent. Until and unless there is something wrong with you, people aren’t going to throw punches at you or point fingers at you…”

He knew he had to rectify the mistakes. Ever since, it has been about correcting the mistakes and improving his game. And, even as he gears up for a milestone game at the picturesque Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, where he has played quite a bit of junior cricket, Ashwin does not want to bask in the glory.

ALSO READ | R. Ashwin: The formidable match-winner enters the 500-wickets club

He will be the first cricketer from Tamil Nadu to feature in a 100th Test match, but for Ashwin, it is nothing more than a number.

“One of my biggest problems is that I have a giant-sized memory. I can go back to the process and remember things, which has helped me over the years. But that’s also a big drawback. Just because I have a great memory, people actually think that I value numbers, but I actually don’t. It does not mean anything to me,” he said.

“The 100th Test match probably means a lot to my dad, it means a lot to my wife and my mom. My daughters are more excited than I am. For me, it’s just a number. Zaheer Khan could not play a 100th Test match, MS Dhoni could have rode on his (success) and played 100 Tests, but he did not. I am not saying it’s not a great feat. For different purposes, from where I come and what I did – how it can be a changing point for whoever comes from my state, I think it’s a great achievement. Beyond that, playing Indian cricket for such a long time and being on the road, the kind of sacrifice the family makes is enormous…”

By his own admission, his father Ravichandran still needs to answer several calls or reply to text messages every time Ashwin doesn’t feature in a side, or even after a health scare, his mother Chitra makes it a point to cheer for her son. And, these little moments are what keeps the spin ace going.

“It’s a pretty big occasion by the sound of it and by the looks of it, but it doesn’t change anything for me. Playing a Test, you need to prepare the same way. [A] 3-1 scoreline is on the board, and despite the scoreline, you want to win every Test that you play. Different challenges will be posed in this game. I think the weather is going to be slightly different to where we have played so far. All that factored in, you just have to look at what is on hand and go about doing your business.”



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