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Indebted to MS Dhoni for the rest of my life: Ashwin | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: In the 2011 IPL final against Royal Challengers Bangalore, MS Dhoni, the master of out of the box strategies, surprised everyone by handing the new ball to Ravichandran Ashwin. The decision proved to be pivotal as the young off-spinner made an immediate impact, dismissing the formidable Chris Gayle in just the fourth ball of the contest.
That memorable night at Chepauk Stadium marked the beginning of Ashwin’s journey with Chennai Super Kings but it was only the start of his illustrious career.Over a decade later, Ashwin has embarked on a remarkable roller-coaster ride, culminating in an impressive tally of 100 Test matches and an astonishing 516 wickets in the traditional format.
During a felicitation ceremony organized by the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) to celebrate his remarkable achievements of 500 wickets and a century of Tests, Ashwin took a moment to reflect on the trust and belief shown in him by Dhoni all those years ago.
“I don’t generally search for words to express how I feel. I am truly humbled and grateful to be here,” said Ashwin, who was awarded Rs one crore by TNCA for his rare achievements, in a dipped-in-emotion voice.
Giving due credit to his first IPL skipper Dhoni, Ashwin said: “In 2008 I met all the greats (in CSK dressing room) Mathew Hayden and MS Dhoni. I sat through (IPL) 2008. I was a nobody then, where am I to play in a team that had Muttiah Muralitharan.
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“I am indebted to Dhoni for the rest of my life for what he gave me. He gave me an opportunity with the new ball to go head on with Chris Gayle and 17 years later Anil bhai would be talking about the same episode,” he fondly recalled.
Ashwin was roped in as a local spinner in 2008 by CSK but he never got a game as the legendary Muralitharan led their spin attack.
The 37-year-old Chennai man is among the finest thinkers of the game and he has found a way to constantly reinvent himself, resulting in a bagful of wickets in the longest format.
“Anil bhai and Rahul (Dravid) bhai briefly mentioned that. It is very tough to win an argument with me. It is true because I believe argument is one of the greatest pathways to excellence. Argument is never with the person. It is always with the true learning that comes at the end of it,” he said as Kumble watched on from the stage.
Ashwin also thanked a host of Tamil Nadu greats, who were among the gathering, including his first First-Class captain S Badrinath and former batter S Sharath, who is now an India selector.
Ashwin, who is especially lethal against the left-handers, said Sharath helped him become a better bowler against the southpaws.
“A lot of people spoke about how I tormented left-handers day in and day out. My first tryst with left handers, Mr S Sharath is sitting in the front. Someone told me if you are that good an off-spinner try and get this man out.
“I did get him out once, caught at slip and I played several more games with Sharath, he never got out to me again. That’s the quality of the batter he was. I bowled to him a lot and hence became a far better bowler to the left-handers.
Such is Ashwin’s commitment to TN and club cricket, till date he makes himself available for those domestic events when he is not on national duty.
“This place has given me so much that I want to keep coming back here. People keep asking why do you want to go back. Tomorrow, I might not be alive but my soul will be hanging around this place. This is what this places means to me,” added Ashwin.
(With inputs from PTI)

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