Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has revealed that he went through a hard time in 2019 when former head coach, Ravi Shastri termed leg-spinner, Kuldeep Yadav, as India’s No.1 overseas spinner.
Kuldeep had just taken a five-wicket haul in Sydney which prompted Shastri to make the comment. Ashwin said that although he felt happy for Kuldeep and wanted to enjoy the moment, he couldn’t really do so.
“I hold Ravi Bhai in high esteem. We all do. And I understand we all can say things and then retract them. In that moment, though, I felt crushed. Absolutely crushed. We all talk about how important it is to enjoy your team-mates’ success. And I was happy for Kuldeep. I have not been able to get a five-for but he has a five-for in Australia. I know how big it is. Even when I have bowled well [at other times], I haven’t ended up with a five-for.“
“So I am genuinely happy for him. And it’s an extremely happy occasion, to win in Australia. But if I have to come and partake in his happiness, and the success of the team, I must feel like I belong there. If I feel like I am being thrown under the bus, how am I supposed to get up and come for a party to enjoy the team’s or team-mate’s success? I went back to my room and then I spoke to my wife. And my children were there. So we were able to, you know, shrug it off, and I still made it to the party, because, end of the day, we had won a massive series,” Ashwin said in an interview with Sidharth Monga for The Cricket Monthly.
Although the Sydney Test ended in a draw, India managed to win the series 2-1. It was their first-ever Test series win in Australia.
“The first Test seemed like a distant memory by then” – Ravichandran Ashwin
Heading back to the first Test, India won the Test on the back of Cheteshwar Pujara’s century in the first innings. Ashwin also contributed immensely with the ball but his performance was swept under the rug because of his counterpart, Nathan Lyon, doing better.
“The first Test seemed like a distant memory by then. I had taken three of the first four wickets in the first innings after we were bowled out cheaply, and then when it got really flat in the final innings, I plugged away for 50-plus overs and took three wickets despite what turned out to be a grade three abdomen tear.“
“In my mind, I had done something great for the team in excruciating pain, but all I heard was, “Nathan Lyon took six, Ashwin took three.” As it is, I was frustrated with my body for letting me down when I was in really good bowling form. The last thing I needed was these comparisons and insinuations. Between that reaction and Sydney, it didn’t feel like I had played any part at all,” Ashwin revealed.
Ashwin took 3/57 in 34 overs in the first innings while Lyon ended with figures of 6/122 in India’s second innings. Virat Kohli and co. eventually won the Adelaide Test by 31 runs with Ashwin taking the final wicket.