Once a relative nobody in a Chennai squad packed with stars, Ravichandran Ashwin has steadily risen through the ranks to become a key force behind the Super Kings’ 2011 Indian Premier League campaign.
Hot on the heels of his contribution to India’s World Cup-winning cause, the 24-year-old spinner weighed in with economical figures and the key wicket of Jacques Kallis in Friday’s win over Kolkata and will prove a telling factor in Wednesday’s encounter with the Kings XI Punjab.
Freed from the shadow of former Super Kings star Muttiah Muralitharan, who has since moved to Kochi, Ashwin is now the defending champions’ number one spinner and paid tribute to captain Mahendra Dhoni and coach Steven Fleming for their faith shown in him.
“Dhoni has been a guiding force for me and I am thankful to him for the support. I wasn’t an automatic choice in the Chennai Super Kings team in the first and second editions as they were more comfortable playing Muralitharan. So, I had to wait for my turn. But I never lost heart and always kept fighting for it,” he told The Times Of India.
“I am thankful to Fleming and the team management for showing faith in me. I could not play a single match in the first IPL and had played only two matches in the second. Though I didn’t do much, I became a different person and learnt a lot as a cricketer.”
A breakthrough 2010 IPL season and a Man of the Series performance in the Twenty20 Champions League a couple of months later have paved the way for Ashwin’s seniority among Chennai’s spinners, which include Shadab Jakati and Suraj Randiv.
“Things completely changed in the third IPL and I became a regular and after I became the Man of the Tournament in the Champions League I have never looked back,” he added. Cricket365