Mumbai: Question marks have hovered over Ravichandran Ashwin's white-ball career ever since wrist-spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal trumped the off-spinner in the pecking order for a place in the national side.
Not reading too much into the current scenario, Ashwin believes it is a matter of perception which has favoured the wrist-spinners over finger spinners.
"It is not due to my lack of effort that I am sitting outside the team, but it is due to the demand and the supply that the Indian team requires," said Ashwin, "I am not looking at it (current dynamics) like that (negatively), because I am no slouch and in the white-ball format my records are not bad like what it is perceived to be either. It is out of perceptions that wrist-spinners are required more in the modern day limited overs format. The last ODI I played, I got a 3 for 28 (against the West Indies in 2017 at North Sound)," reminded the 32-year old.
"I went and played the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 had a decent outing and that is how I am looking at it. I am playing cricket and it is not that I need to specialise in one format. It is just the challenges of the modern day game and I will be looking forward to whatever it takes," Ashwin said on the sidelines of Cricfig cricket memorabilia launch, where Kings XI Punjab skipper alongside Kolkata Knight Riders captain, Dinesh Karthik, unveiled figurines of cricketers from their franchises.
The notion that the competition between bat and ball is heavily skewed in favour of the batsmen in limited overs format, has been in contention among the cricketing fraternity for some time now. Ashwin felt the best solution to counter the notion is for the "cricketers to adapt to it".
"Probably one extra fielder in the stands taking the catches would help," joked Ashwin.
"Honestly that is how the game is supposed to be. Thankfully Test cricket has had a lot more to offer for the bowlers over the last year or so, so that is something there is a bit of a positive."
"White-ball cricket is getting into the mode of bashing around. Even in the 50-over format, the game is fluctuating here and there. It was nice to see a few 250-260 scoring games in the recently concluded series. I think there needs to be a balance between the formats in order to cater to different segments of cricketers. Test cricket is where the bowlers should rule and they did over the last year.
"Every time there is a calamity in our house, we think about it. Michael Atherton speaks after heavy scoring series in the West Indies. So did Mr. Sachin when we had a heavy scoring series some time back in India. When you have two new balls, the decrease in ground size, the advent of T20 cricket, the confidence with which the batsmen clear the field and the superior quality of bats; everything goes hand-in-hand. Like I said, different formats cater to different sort of audiences. It is up to the cricketers to adapt to it."
With the start Indian Premier League less than one week away, the Kings XI Punjab captain also spoke of the 'mystery spinner' Varun Chakravarthy, who made heads turn after the TNPL star was snapped for a whopping price of Rs 8.4 Crores by KXIP.
Ashwin defended Chakravarthy, who is likely to be in focus when the Punjab franchise start their campaign, saying it is "unfair to weigh down" a bowler based on his price tag.
“Look, it’s not so much about the mystery bowler or the price. We paid for the demands of a certain skill set. I don’t think it’s right to put the price weighing down on the bowler like what happened to Jaydev (Unadkat) last year. It’s quite unfair to do that.”
In the 2018 mega-auction, Rajasthan Royals had bought the services of Jaydev Unadkat for Rs 11.5 crore, making him the highest paid Indian that season. The left-arm Saurashtra pacer, however, had an underwhelming season.
“We have a budget of 75-80 crores and we have to spend it on a wide variety of cricketers we need to assemble in our team. Yes, there is an ability quotient that comes into play but it is about supply and demand and Varun Chakraborthy is someone, who we thought could really fill into a spinner's role for us and we went ahead and got him. The price was entirely dictated by the market, not necessarily that needs to be pinned on his shoulders,” Ashwin explained to a group of reporters.
With the World Cup in sight and national sides keeping a close watch on the workload of several international players, many key players might skip more than few games making the situation for team captains and think tanks slightly tricky.
However, Ashwin said it's not easy to look too far ahead. He also mentioned that the players are responsible enough and more aware of their fitness than they have ever been.
"I don't think as a cricketer you can look far ahead about what needs to be done and how you can manage it. As a cricketer or as a sportsperson, you just concentrate on what happens today. The franchise has invested money on you. Obviously, it is a massive tournament, everybody plays for pride, everybody wants to perform and excel," he said.