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Posted at: Mar 14, 2018, 1:00 AM; last updated: Mar 14, 2018, 1:00 AM (IST)

Ashwin asserts he’s his own man

Watch me and decide if there are similarities with Dhoni, says new KXIP skipper
Ashwin asserts he’s his own man
Ravichandran Ashwin

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 13

“What sort of question is this?” the new Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin said when he was asked whether he’d need the help of Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh to connect with the Punjab fans. After all, he is from Chennai and played for Chennai Super Kings for a decade.

“Of course Viru and Yuvi paaji are important. Yuvi paaji captained me in my first Challenger Series and he played a big role in whoever I am today so obviously learning from experience and taking advice is something I am not averse to,” Ashwin said after the team jersey was launch here today.

Asked if he was looking forward to regain his place in the Indian team in the shorter formats, he gave a straight ‘no’ as answer. 

His replies by then had put down the marker as to how the new captain will take strike in a new jersey. 

“I see it as a lot of responsibility in terms of trying to get the bowlers up to speed especially in this day and age where almost every bowler goes for runs irrespective of the quality of the bowler,” he said. 

“And if I can get a wrap around that and get the team to buy into it and make them understand as to how we look at a Twenty20 game, I would have achieved half of my goals going into the tournament.”

“It is just not today or tomorrow... We have got a couple of years ahead of us and we can really shape this team into a really strong team,” he said.

Dhoni miss

Strangely, Ashwin, who has played a majority of his career under Mahendra Singh Dhoni for both club and country, chose not to credit him when trying to explain whether his style of captaincy would be influenced by his former Chennai Super Kings skipper.

“Think I’ll go about my job and you can all make that decision whether there are any similarities in that,” he said. “But for me, it’s all about trying to incorporate whatever I have learned over the years. I have played under a lot of captains. I have also played under Viru paaji. So I’ll try and get all the good qualities and try and make sure I am strategically ahead of competition.”

Ashwin was asked to lead Tamil Nadu when the majority of the squad had left the BCCI fold, swayed away by the now-defunct Indian Cricket League. He went to lead the state to the Vijay Hazare title. The KXIP stint will be the first time where the 31-year-old off-spinner will lead a side in the Twenty20 format.

“I became a TN captain when I was 20-years-old. Everyone went to play ICL and there was a big void in our Tamil Nadu team and the coach saw something in me and said I will be the captain,” he said. “It was a very different experience and since then I have learned a lot, matured a lot more. I have a decent captaincy record but never captained in a T20 game. It’s going to be very different but I’m sure I can put my best foot forward.”

The leader

The leader in him shone bright when he was asked about the lack of genuine wicketkeepers in the side. KL Rahul and Akshdeep Nath are the two wicketkeeping options for the Punjab team.

“Most people think this as a perceived weakness of Kings XI but to me on an average in a 20-over game every keeper takes only six balls. So if our keeper can take those six balls really well I think we will be fine,” he said.

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