'I could never be Virat Kohli. Have made my peace with it': Ashwin's 'sacrifice' | Cricket - Hindustan Times

'I could never be a Virat Kohli. Have made my peace with it': Ravichandran Ashwin opens up on 'sacrifices'

Nov 30, 2023 01:40 PM IST

Ravichandran Ashwin talks about what it took to break free of the label that he isn't the most athletic Indian cricketers around.

Ravichandran Ashwin has made a career out of foxing batters with his bowling innovation. That Ashwin, 13 years after his debut, has remained a key player for India en route to becoming the country's second-highest Test wicket-taker is a testament to his longevity. Despite not being the most agile fielders, Ashwin has always been willing to put in the hard yards to overcome that moniker, and at 36, has even managed to do so to a lot of extent. You may not see Ashwin dive too often, but the time needed to reach the ball, go down and collect it has witnessed a drastic drop.

Ravichandran Ashwin (R) says his journey is different to Virat Kohli's(Getty)
Ravichandran Ashwin (R) says his journey is different to Virat Kohli's(Getty)

Ashwin has always been one of the most hard-working Indian cricketers. Ask former India strength and conditioning coach Shankar Basu, or fielding coach R Sridhar. Both have in the past vouched for it. But Ashwin's improvement as a fielder and in his athletic prowess didn't come without sacrifices. In a chat with former India women coach WV Raman, Ashwin opened up on all that he's done to get himself up to the requirement of the modern-day game.

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"I would say it is one of the easiest sacrifices I have made in my life. I have worked hard on my fitness but I would never hold it against me or never give it as an excuse. The reason I say that is because the game is something that I love so much. And if you love something so much, anything that comes along with it that you have to do to stay relevant is just a natural extension," Ashwin told the former India opener on his show for Sportstar.

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With 489 wickets and numerous bowling records, Ashwin has always prioritised the team over himself. No one, probably no one has been unluckier than Ashwin in terms of sitting out crucial matches just because the team combinations demanded so. And still, he has successfully forged an identity for himself. Irrespective of the team's needs in overseas Tests, Ashwin proves indispensable at home. He acknowledges that in terms of fitness, he may never reach the same level as someone like Virat Kohli, but despite these slight limitations, Ashwin has conquered his demons.

"I have sacrificed my food, I have sacrificed my lifestyle, I train doubly harder and yet I could never be a Virat Kohli. And that is something I've made peace with, because that is his journey and this is my journey. For me, not being naturally athletic is something that stuck as a tag with me all through my life but it's never stopped me from working hard on it and stay relevant. For me, staying relevant, to be able to put myself on the ground and exhibit my skill has been at the forefront. I have never really seen it as a sacrifice. Instead, it's been an absolute journey of pleasure and joy," he added.

After playing just one match for India at the recently-concluded World Cup, Ashwin is all set to get picked in India's squad for the two-Test series against South Africa starting next month.

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