Posts Tagged ‘Ravichandran Ashwin’

Shridhar Pandey

It would probably be very easy to get carried away following India’s win in the first Test match against New Zealand in Hyderabad. It sure would take a brave-heart to find shortcomings out of such an emphatic win. But let us not forget the consecutive 0-4 drubbings India has had over their previous two Test outings. At the risk of being called a cynic, I would like to take this opportunity to point out a couple of areas where the Indian team still needs to pay due attention. Before that, let us have a look at the various positives that can be drawn out of this victory.

Cheteshwar Pujara justified all that was being said and written about him so far. He, no doubt, is a class act. During entire course of the Test match, he never looked like an enforcer; neither did he look like a mere survivor. He completely looked like one who belongs at that level. He might not be as aesthetically pleasing as Tendulkar or Laxman; but to call him complete (at his own level) won’t be an understatement. Virat Kohli’s half century was like a breeze of fresh air. He must be very disappointed with himself at the way he threw his wicket away for he is one player who always likes to be in the thick of things.

Taylor has an uphill task in preventing a whitewash in Bangalore. © AP

Pragyan Ojha bowled like he always does – right on the money. He may not have been successful every time he has been given a chance, but I, for some reason, get the feeling that he is someone who has not always got his captain’s backing. Ashwin yet again showed that he is a lethal weapon on a track that provides some assistance. Though he is just seven Tests old, he has shown a lot of promise. Once again, his real challenge would come when he moves out of his comfort zone and goes to countries like South Africa, Australia or England. He did not fare very well in Australia the last time he went there, but that would have been a bit too much to expect from a spin bowler who had played just three matches before that – all in the subcontinent.

There were two aspects of Sehwag that could be seen in this match; one impressed and the other disappointed. First, his slip catching was exceptional. Let us hope that he pulls off similar catches when the pace bowlers are in action. Second was his batting which was not very impressive. Though he did hit a few of his trademark boundaries on the off side during his short stint, he did never resemble the Sehwag of past.

Moving on to the pace bowlers; though they did not get much chance to bowl or assistance from the pitch, they failed to impress in whatever opportunities they got. Their Kiwi counterparts did a much better job in comparison. Zaheer Khan, who has been India’s bowling spearhead over the last few years, went wicketless – that is certainly not a good sign. Umesh Yadav did manage a couple of scalps. But his overall bowling was by no means impressive.

Suresh Raina failed to hold on to another life given to him. He is doing his chances no good. This season may prove to be his last on the Test arena if his performances continue the same way. He cannot find a place in the Test side just by virtue of his good fielding skills. The overall Indian fielding was a real pleasant surprise though – maybe the injection of young and fresh legs would have done the trick.

To sum up, a pessimist might be successful in finding out weak links in however good a Test side. But taking nothing away from the Indian team’s performance, I would like to conclude with this: they not only need to keep up the good work, but also need to focus on a few other key areas if they are to do well in South Africa in 2013 and win back the coveted no. 1 Test ranking.

Goutham Chakravarthi

Barely a fornight has passed since his wedding, R Ashwin, was widely expected to credit his recent success to his newly wed wife. The lanky Chennai offie who ‘edged’ his way to his maiden hundred on Friday credited his mother’s daddojanam (curd rice) for his success. He said, “Mom’s daddojanam is my favourite. Often it lulls me to sleep. I often end up yawning my way to some unexpected success like this afternoon. Credit to Mom.”

Chairman of selectors, K Srikkanth said, “I have known Ashwin for long, from the time he was a kid. Though a staunch Iyer, it is simply marvelous to know that he still manages to do trikala sandhyavandanam amid national duties. And he always has daddojanam with moru milagai (dried chillies) to spice himself up for the battle.”

Daddojanam, mathematics and pongal key to his success. © The Hindu

Srikkanth also pointed out to the fact that Ashwin was an opener in his school days before he became a bowler. Ashwin’s wife, Preethi, said that the credit of Ashwin becoming a bowler should be given to Kabaleeswarar temple in Mylapore. She said, “Like most Indian boys, Ashwin was a batsman. When he took a fancy to me he would follow me to Kabaleeswarar temple every day. There he would sit opposite me in the temple and when hot pongal (rice porridge) was served to the devotees on bare hands, Ashwin would toss it from one hand to the other and roll it into a ball so as to not let the heat burn a hole in his hand, all the while sheepishly looking at me. He would roll pongal from right to left and left to right to left and thereby sowing the seeds for his offie and his carom ball.”

His childhood friend and schoolmate at PSBB (Padma Seshadri Bala Bavan), Senthilnathan, claims credit for his batting prowess. He says, “As a youngster, Ashwin was a poor batsman. He middled every delivery and played very straight and hit the gaps. It was so old fashioned. It was like watching a proper batsman and since we wanted some tail enders in the side, we had to teach him to inside edge a few and swing across the line every-now-and-then. He became a specialist no.11 for us who could nick when he wanted. He could nick it to slips or nick it on to the stumps as he wished. Now he is so good that he can inside edge it past the off-stump, leg-stump, over the middle stump and so on like you saw on Friday. He is the true pupil who has mastered the art. Barry Richards would be proud of his game.”

His father insisted that it was his IIT-JEE tuitions that proved the difference. “He could solve quadratic equations as a 5 year old. He could calculate 18339.678 times the 10th root of 0.43 in less than 4 seconds. His grammar was sound and was poised to pursue education in America or England or both. He was a bright child. But one day, when he was about 12, he was tossing an orange from one hand to the other when I observed the rotations he imparted on the orange were so many it was more impressive than his calculus skills. When I asked him to arrive at the rotations per minute of the spin he imparted, he managed to write a quick C program on the computer to arrive at the figure of 1200 rpm. I asked him to spin the table fan and each of his spins would keep it going for 10 to 15 minutes and in summer, he spun the fans for all in the colony when the power was out. Then I knew that my son would not only be an engineer but a very fine spinner. He’s not let us down.”

Elsewhere, the Tamil film industry is fascinated with Ashwin’s rise to fame. The industry’s most versatile hero Kamal Haasan is all set to make a movie on Ashwin’s life. Rumour is rife that he is preparing himself to portray the roles of a 5 year old Ashwin, 14 year old Ashwin, 17 year old Ashwin and a 24 year old Ashwin. He will also play the characters of his mom, dad, grandfather, his lady love and his best friend. The movie is to be called Aayiram Avathaaram (Thousand Incarnations).