Ravichandran Ashwin’s selection for the T20 World Cup 2021 took the fans and Pundits by surprise. The off-spinner getting named ahead of the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav even sparked a bit of a debate as several experts questioned India’s team selection.
Though the Men in Blue had a poor run in the mega ICC tournament, held in the UAE, Ashwin made a commendable comeback in the limited-overs format after a hiatus of seven years. He played three games and picked up six wickets, with the best figures of 3 for 20 against Namibia in Dubai.
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BCCI President Sourav Ganguly has revealed that former captain Virat Kohli was keen to have Ashwin in the side. Speaking with renowned journalist Boria Majumdar in a chat show, Ganguly admitted that even he wasn’t sure about the veteran off-spinner’s return to the white-ball set-up.
“I wasn’t sure whether he would be part of the white-ball team again. But then Virat Kohli wanted him to be part of the World Cup. And, whatever little bit of opportunity he got, I thought he was superb,” Ganguly said.
“Everybody speaks about him. Look at Rahul Dravid’s statement after the (Kanpur) Test match – he called him an all-time great. You don’t need rocket science to judge Ashwin’s talent. My appreciation just comes from what I see. It may be Ashwin, it may be (Shreyas) Iyer, it may be Rohit (Sharma), it may be Virat (Kohli),” he added.
Ashwin, who recently became the third-highest wicket-taker for India in Tests, has time and again proved his match-winning qualities. Before returning to T20Is a few months ago, he has been one of the most consistent performers in the longest format of the game.
Ganguly highlighted Ashwin’s contribution in some of India’s ICC title triumphs. Heaping praise on the off-spinner, the BCCI President said such players ‘cannot be ignored’.
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“Look at the number of winning teams he has been a part of. 2011 World Cup, he was part of the winning team for India. 2013, when he won the Champions Trophy, he was a leading bowler in that tournament. When CSK won IPLs, he was the main bowler for them, bowling in the powerplay and difficult situations.
“Look at his Test record, it is phenomenal. It does not need me to say Ravichandran Ashwin is exceptional. His record and his performances show it. And you can’t ignore such players. You cannot just turn your eyes and say that he’s gone. I am not surprised with what he is doing,” Ganguly concluded.
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