During his early days of professional cricket, Ravichandran Ashwin was eager to make an impression and especially after having been picked for IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, captained by MS Dhoni. Also Read - Sourav Ganguly Explains Why Fast Bowling Culture Has Changed in India
CSK, during the early years of IPL, had the likes of Matthew Hayden, Muttiah Muralitharan in their squad and Ashwin, a rookie offspinner, wanted to catch their attention. Also Read - MS Dhoni: What Has The Former India Skipper Been Doing Since Taking Sabbatical?
“IPL and CSK is a stage that everyone wants. For me it was more about recognition. MSD did not know who Ashwin is, Hayden and Muralithan did not know who Ashwin is. The first thing that came to my mind was that ‘I will show these people that Ashwin is here’,” Ashwin said on Cricbuzz in Conversation. Also Read - Selection is Where India Have Gone Wrong in ICC Tournaments: Nasser Hussain
To play ahead of the legendary Muralitharan or even alongside the Sri Lankan, was something that was considered a dim prospect for Ashwin, he recalls. “I don’t know it was being foolish or arrogance but that was how I was made. Nobody was giving me a chance that Ashwin will play alongside Muralitharan or ahead of Muralitharan. I thought, I will get there ahead of him one day,” he said.
In the nets, Ashwin says, he troubled Hayden and the New Zealand pair of Stephen Fleming and Jacob Oram but still to catch Dhoni’s attention.
“I got the eye of Hayden, Jacob Oram, and Stephen Fleming while bowling to them at the nets. They were finding it difficult to face me in the first year (2008) but I had not caught the eye of MSD. I never had massive interactions with him. It was going to the nets and getting MSD…he was hitting Muralitharan out of the park and I thought, if I bowl better than him, I met get to play ahead of Murali,” the 33-year-old said.
And it was during another domestic tournament where Ashwin dismissed Dhoni and forced the then India captain to notice him. ” I got his attention when I got him during a Challenger trophy and celebrated like a crazy kid,” he recalled.
Eventually, Ashwin gained Dhoni’s attention and was even entrusted with bowling the Super Over during a Champions League contest against Victoria Bushrangers which ultimately didn’t go well for the offie.
He leaked 23 runs and Dhoni simply told him, “you should have bowled the carrom ball.”
Ashwin says Dhoni has always backed his abilities. “MS always maintained that you are exceptionally skilful and you should keep doing what you do,” he said.