Wednesday, July 24, 2024

MS Dhoni Gave Ravichandran Ashwin Same Advice For 15 Years, He Finally Understood Why

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One of the finest spinners to play the game, Ravichandran Ashwin is an icon in Indian cricket. Starting his career as an off-spinner in the Chennai Super Kings team, Ashwin quickly rose through the ranks and became a formidable force for Team India. Even today, he continues to be a pillar in the Indian Test team. The Tamil Nadu-born cricketer was also fortunate to have worked under the guidance of the legendary MS Dhoni. Though Ashwin tried picking Dhoni’s brains over the last 15 years or so, he mostly got the same advice from him, ‘to continue being funky’.

In a chat on RevSportz, Ashwin made a candid admission, saying Dhoni probably didn’t even know who he was for the first year. But, it was under his leadership that Ashwin first started to flourish at CSK, as a powerplay bowler.

“I think Dhoni, for the first one year, did not know that I existed. I do not think he knew or maybe he knew and he did not really, that’s Dhoni. I have known him for almost 15-16-17 years from close quarters and with him, I find what he was in 2008-09 is exactly how he operates in 2024. That is fascinating for me and I remember that game in 2010 where he got hit by Shane Bond on his arm, I think at Eden Gardens.

“I got a wicket. I got Bond out in that game but he gots hit on his arm and he went out of the side. But I have begun the IPL reasonably well. This is supposedly going to be my first full year in the IPL, and he went out and Suresh Raina led the side. I think they have probably slightly different views in terms of how they handle people. I did not bowl inside the Powerplay. I bowled slightly later because Mutthiah Muralitharan and I were playing in the same team and I ended up bowling at death in Bangalore. I have not had a good time. I had let the team down on three occasions. After that, Dhoni led. But as soon as he came back to captain the side, he picked up the puzzle,” he said.

“I think he said, ‘I want that guy back’. I came back and he again used me with the new ball because he used me inside the Powerplay against Adam Gilchrist and I got him out in Chennai. And he used me again in those same roles and continuously used me like that for several years to follow. He used me inside the batting Powerplay, even when I played for India. So, I think that is quite a fascinating sort of a belief that he had and he kept it very simple when he told me things,” he added.

The only advice Dhoni had for Ashwin was that the latter should continue to reinvent himself. Ashwin, even at the age of 37, continues to add new variations to his bowling, to remain a challenging opponent to face for batters.

“He always said, your greatest thing, the greatest strength is to try new things, to be funky. So, do not change that for anybody else. I think I told it in that book launch also. I met him in Dubai after a game between Delhi against CSK and I asked him, ‘how you find it’. I have developed that back spin. He said, ‘you are always like that. It has been your strength. Remember, you continue to be funky. Remember, you continue to work on your variations’. I was like, this was what he told me 15 years ago.

“The man continued to see the same thing. And then like after a brief pause, he told me again, ‘you know what, I know what you are thinking but that is your strength. So, keep being funky, keep expressing yourself’. Maybe it is not just the cricket that he sees. He sees, more sort of a mental strength side of things, or the mental aptitude side of things. And I find that he did that with Tushar Deshpande also for CSK. So, he continues to do that. He continues to pick people who are good in certain roles and fitting them in,” he asserted.

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