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Shirin Sadikot in Chennai 23 April 2013 - 02:00am IST

Ashwin – Dhoni’s eternal go-to man

Off-spinner talks of his excellent 4-0-20-2 even as Watson went berserk

More often than not, when a Twenty20 innings worth 185 runs features an authoritative individual century, you expect to see messed up figures on the bowling scorecard. And the analysis of Chennai Super Kings’ bowling attack was no different after Shane Watson blitzed a 61-ball 101 at the Chepauk.

However, amidst the swelled up economy rates, there was an exception. It was R Ashwin’s four overs that went for mere 20 runs – an economy rate of five runs per over. To boot, his wicket column comprised Rajasthan Royals classical yet attacking Ajinkya Rahane and the in-form youngster Dishant Yagnik.

The two wickets ensured Watson didn’t get much support in the top-order. To Watson, Ashwin gave runs at a premium of a run-a-ball in the two overs he bowled at him.

It was a day of the batsmen – Watson’s ton was followed up by Michael Hussey’s 88 (51 balls) and Suresh Raina’s 51 (35 balls) that eventually won the match for CSK – where Ashwin’s classical off-spinner to get rid of Rahane and the deceiving tossed-up delivery to get rid of Yagnik will not be remembered. But his contribution with the ball was noteworthy amidst the heist of runs.

After CSK’s five-wicket win over RR, iplt20.com caught up with Ashwin, who spoke about his bowling plans, adapting to match-situations and taking the responsibility of being the premier bowler of his team.

Now, this is the time in the tournament when CSK start to peak as a team, isn’t it?


I would like to think so. We generally start peaking a little late in the tournament; we are slow starters. Having said that, this year has been pretty alright because we haven’t lost two games on the bounce. We’re happy with the way things have gone.

An eco-rate of five is not bad with Shane Watson batting like that.

When the entire bowling attack is under the pump I have to put my hands up, being probably the most experienced bowler in this bowling line-up. I have to stand up and deliver.

Has the strengthened pace attack of the team changed your role?

As bowlers we don’t have defined roles, saying you have to pick wickets or you have to contain runs. With me, the situation of the game warrants how I bowl. If there’s a small window for me to attack and pick up a wicket – like it was today – I go on the offense. They were off to a rollicking start but after the timeout I thought I had a couple of overs to toss the ball up and see what happens. Those are the windows that I try to make the most of and see what I can do in them. But there are other scenarios where you have to be smart and look to finish the over well, giving five, six runs or so.

You certainly don’t have to bowl a lot in the power-plays now?

This year I have bowled quite a few death overs as I have come into the attack pretty late. I have bowled a lot of 13th, 15th and 17th overs this season. We have a couple of overseas seamers and an Indian seamer which gives the captain many options to exploit in the power-play.

Today was different as you came into the attack in the sixth over. Was that because of Watson?

I would like to think so but I am not sure as we didn’t have a discussion on that. Watson was going great guns and the captain probably wanted to shut down that over well and look to get a breakthrough. Shane Watson made sure that I had to come early into the attack.

While Watson was going like that, it was important not to let partnerships build. You did that well by picking up a couple of top-order wickets.

I think Ajinkya is a good batsman in the sense that he can hurt you with the boundaries that are risk-free because he can pick gaps so well. He could’ve actually formed a lethal pair with Shane Watson in the power-play overs as he can rotate the strike while the boundaries come at the other end. So, to put brakes at the other end was very critical.

Overall it was not a very good day to be a bowler.

All in all, I thought we didn’t execute things really well with the ball and gave away 20 runs more. These days come in the T20 format and you need to learn to accept them in order to come back strong. As long as you learn from it and move on, you’ll be okay.

After bowling so well in the Test series, how was it for you to adjust to the T20 format?

It is very difficult but fortunately I have been bowling pretty well and ball has been coming out nicely. Having that form in one format helps you make better adjustments going into the other. There is a settling period that takes place but you generally carry the form forward.

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