Ashwin brushes off over World T20 criticism

When it was offered that MS Dhoni, the India captain, had said R Ashwin had struggled with the dew, the offspinner flatly responded: “I don’t know what he said.” © IDI/Getty Images

India offspinner R Ashwin has sought to put in perspective his performance in the World T20 semi-final against West Indies in Mumbai, and even made a thinly-veiled observation that he didn’t get the chance to bowl more despite creating wicket-taking opportunities.

When a journalist remarked that Ashwin had “struggled” with the dew in the semi-final, he quickly interjected to ask, “You mean with the ball?” After the journalist replied in the affirmative, Ashwin said he wasn’t well placed to answer the question as he hadn’t bowled when the dew had set in.

“It’s better you ask someone who actually bowled [when there was dew]. To be very honest, I don’t know how it felt,” Ashwin said on the eve of the opening match of IPL 2016 between his team, Rising Pune Super Giants, and Mumbai Indians. “It’s very amusing because for the first 12 balls I bowled I created a wicket-opportunity as well. It’s quite surprising the way you phrase your question.” When it was offered that MS Dhoni, the captain, had said Ashwin had struggled with the dew, he flatly responded: “I don’t know what he said.”

India were defending a total of 192 that night. Ashwin was introduced in the seventh over of the chase and he began by conceding only seven runs. However, his figures suffered when Johnson Charles mowed him across the line for a four and six in his next over. Ashwin finished with 2-0-20-0, but he could well have picked up a wicket off his fifth delivery. Lendl Simmons, when on 18, sliced a thick edge to short third man where Jasprit Bumrah took a fine catch, but replays later indicated Ashwin had overstepped. Dhoni later blamed the two no balls – Hardik Pandya bowled the other one, which Simmons had hit straight down mid-off’s throat- and the dew for India’s defeat.

When asked if he had gotten over the disappointment, Ashwin gave a convoluted reply to suggest its relative significance in the larger scheme of things.

“The day I went back home my dog had a heat stroke. He had fits. It just showed me what’s more important and what is very, very important in life,” he said. “I didn’t turn a piece of paper for the next three days. So I haven’t really read about what people have said. There have been good enough journalists, and knowledgeable people who called me and said I haven’t’ bowled a no-ball in ages, and to have bowled one no-ball I don’t become the villain. If that’s the perception, I don’t know how to counter that,” he said with a smile.

On the subject of physical and mental fatigue in the IPL, which begins in less than a week after the World T20, Ashwin admitted it was going to be taxing.

“It’s going to be difficult. There is no hiding from that,” he said. “It’s going to be little taxing mentally and physically. The thing about IPL is that it’s pretty fast-paced. If you get in and try to beat your own odds, look for improvements during this time, it’s going to help you as a cricketer and hold you in good stead through the year.

“As far as I am concerned, IPL is a place and avenue to improve your cricket. You have lots of down time to work on your game, the practice facilities are international standard. These are the things you look forward to. On top of it, it’s one of the best T20 leagues going around. You improve and try and see what you can offer the team.”

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