The 12th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) ended on Sunday with Mumbai Indians securing a 1-run win in a thrilling final against defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in Hyderabad. Both teams were tied at three titles, but Sunday's win ensured MI are now the most successful team in the IPL history.
Among the individual performers that stood out in this IPL, Ravichandran Ashwin's guile with the white ball was hard to miss. The Kings XI Punjab skipper often bowled in the Powerplay, and together with Mohammed Shami, led his side's bowling attack with aplomb. If it were not for the underperformance of the support cast, KXIP could have finished higher than their eventual mid-table standings.
As a special guest in the #SelectDugout during the broadcast of the IPL 2019 final from the Star Sports studio, Ashwin talked about the innovations he tried in his bowling during the league.
“This year, it has been a lot about enjoying the game which I think was not there last year, as I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. This year I worked on some of that and went through videos over the last three years of my IPL and T20 cricket, because I have been playing a lot of Test cricket and I had to continue the rhythm into the shorter format as well.
"It was more about getting the flight, drop on the ball, getting my bounce right, and with the short boundaries in India, sometimes bounce is a hampering factor because a top edge could send the ball straight out of the ground. This year it was more about getting a lot more wrist into the ball. When I had a look at the stats and the videos, I had to focus on the drop, the speed and a variation in my release points and ensure that the batsmen didn’t guess me out."
Explaining the execution of his carrom ball, Ashwin said he tried bowling from various release points, and the variations added unpredictability to his bowling.
“I worked on a few releases, including how to use my wrist behind the ball. I started releasing underneath, sideways, beneath and over the top. There is a factor of risk coming in behind the ball with more skid on it, and get a whole range of variation, so that the batsman is not able to pick one at a time. I had the same action as mixed off-breaks to the lefties and the oddballs to the righties which gave me a lot of elements in terms of unpredictability off the pitch.”
Ashwin conceded that while off-spinners, in general, have lost some edge in limited-overs' cricket, and emphasised on the need for finger spinners to adapt.
“There has been a factor that off-spinners have lost a bit of trend over the years, especially in the shortest format and probably the 50-over format as well. But there is a certain amount of validity to it. I think the spinners that actually have the ability in them to adapt and try and acquire new skills over a period of time and not be rudimentary or one-dimensional in the way they want to operate. They definitely have to lose the fear of insecurity and try new things,” he added.
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