Dubai: Likening the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) to a laboratory, senior off-spinner R Ashwin feels the long build-up to the tournament amid the COVID-19 pandemic will provide the players with a great opportunity to try out new things in the league.
Moved out of India due to rising cases of COVID-19, the 13th edition of the world's biggest T20 league will be held across three venues in the UAE from 19 September to 10 November.
"This is probably the longest window an IPL team gets for practicing for the tournament," Ashwin, who will turn out for Delhi Capitals, said in a release issued by the franchise.
"This is actually a wonderful opportunity to top up your skills, try out new things. It's like a laboratory to try things out in the game that you love so much."
The 33-year-old, who had previously captained Kings XI Punjab, has 125 wickets in 139 IPL matches under his belt.
"You can really pace yourself out, use your creativity and imagination, and settle into things as the tournament kicks off.
"It will be a slow and skeptical start for most teams, and that's one of the areas where I'd like to capitalise."
According to the seasoned off-spinner, coach Ricky Ponting has asked the players to manage their workload well.
"We've got a lot of energy reserve at this point and the eagerness to play the game is quite prevalent. The one thing Punter (Ponting) has made very clear to us is that we have to manage our workload well, and that's going to be the key."
Ashwin, who had joined DC from Kings XI Punjab, is looking forward to working with his new team.
"I look forward to working with Punter. I've had some wonderful conversations with him over the last week or so. Shreyas is a lovely young leader who is very clear in his head, I've had a few chats with him too," said the veteran spinner.
"The mood in the camp is extremely exuberant. We've all gone through a difficult few months, and it's great to see people in high spirits, mingling with each other despite being locked in for a week in the hotel.
"We were very disciplined as a group, and everyone was strict about staying in. I think that showed how much we want to go out there and play together," added Ashwin.
With Ponting calling Ashwin "one of the most successful spinners in IPL history", Ashwin feels he has started understanding his role better.
"I feel that in the shorter format of the game, it's harder to be a bowler and easier to be a batter. My job is to come in at 7 or 8, and you're going to get 5-6 deliveries at the most, sometimes not even that," he said.
"The last two years at Punjab, I started understanding these roles better. I understand my role with the bat better now, and I can contribute better than I have done in the past.
"Of course bowling is what I enjoy. I don't mind going for runs, it's a challenge I love," he said.
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