Ashwin: Captaincy is a responsibility

Ravichandran Ashwin in New Delhi on Tuesday. (PTI)

New Delhi: Ravichandran Aswhin was only 20 years when he was given the responsibility to lead Tamil Nadu in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Unperturbed, the young off-spinner did his job competently despite the presence of few senior players in the team.

"That was more than 10 years ago... Perhaps some senior players were busy elsewhere and I led the team. It was a different experience... I remember. Now that I have been made the Kings XI Punjab skipper, I am ready to put my best foot forward," said Ashwin during the team's jersey launch on Tuesday.

Ashwin knows he has a difficult job in hand. KXIP are not the most successful team in the IPL and could make the final only once. This season, the franchise have a strong squad on paper, but Ashwin has to mould them into a winning combination.

Asked whether he would be employing key strategies of some of his long-time India and Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the 31-year-old said he would like to work as per the situation of the game.

"I will go about my job as the situation demands. Over the years, I have played under lots of captains and learned lots of things from them," said Ashwin.

"Lots of people associate leadership with power. But I think it is also a responsibility. In T20 cricket, all bowlers go for runs, irrespective of their reputations. If I can put a wrap around them, I can advice them about bowling, that would be great," he said.

Ashwin was asked whether he would be taking advice from senior pro Yuvraj Singh and director of cricket operations Virender Sehwag, the spinner looked surprised.

"What kind of question is this? Both Sehwag and Yuvraj had been my captains. Since they are here, I would make use of their experience," he said.

It is still early days for deciding on team combinations but one of Ashwin's challenges could be to handle senior players in the squad. Yuvraj, Aaron Finch, David Miller and Chris Gayle are among the high-profile players in the side this season.

"Having played international cricket for close to 10 years, I don't think I will have an issue (handling the senior players). I am also one of them. It is a strong squad and I feel all the big names you have mentioned will play an integral role," he said.

When it was pointed out to him that there could be shortage of good wicket-keepers in the Punjab squad apart from KL Rahul, Ashwin laughed and said every franchise in the IPL has some shortcoming or the other, which should be not be taken too seriously.

"Moreover, in T20 cricket, there are only 20 overs and wicket-keepers sometimes don't gather more than six balls," said the KXIP skipper with a laugh.

The off-spinner was obviously not happy when he was asked whether he was depending on his IPL performance to make a comeback in the national team in the shorter versions of the game. "No", was his reply.


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