Chennai: India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin feels that injury is not something that "one should hold against any player" as it is an inevitability that even Sir Don Bradman or Sachin Tendulkar couldn't avoid during their playing days.
Ashwin missed three Test matches on the tour of Australia due to left abdominal side strain, something that also made him miss a Test match in England.
Ashwin's injuries prompted a "concerned" skipper Virat Kohli to urge the Tamil Nadu bowler focus on "correcting" this.
"The injury has come and I have to deal with it in a certain way. I have to get my best know how. Injury is not something you can hold up against a certain player," Ashwin, who recently returned in action during a Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) league match, said on Saturday.
"Injury has not missed Sachin Tendulkar, injury has not missed Don Bradman and it will not miss players in the future... Whenever I have done a fitness test or yo-yo test, I am at the top of the list. I am doing my best," he further added.
Ashwin said that he is slowly coming back to full fitness and will need more game time as he is currently a single-format (Test) regular.
"I am almost back to 100 percent. I've bowled close to 40 overs in the last game but I would like to keep going through the journey. I have not played games back to back. Now that I'm playing only one format, it is important that I get some game-time and also train..." he said.
Ashwin said it was frustrating to miss games due to injury but one has to put it behind and keep moving on.
"Any time you are playing well or bowling well, you want to keep playing. I have always loved playing matches together. It is quite unfortunate that when I was bowling really well overseas, I had to encounter injuries back to back. It's frustrating but you have to put it behind and keep moving on," he added.
The owner of 342 Test wickets said that he is focused on staying positive and will play whatever game comes his way.
"I am staying positive in terms of what cricket I have to play and how I have to play. I don't leave any stone unturned in terms of how I have to train and practice. The opportunity needs to come my way," he said.
For Ashwin, it's all about giving his best and "not trying to make a statement or trying to prove anything to anyone."
"I have always given my best wherever and whenever I played. It doesn't put any undue pressure on me. It is a game that I love. I am not trying to make a statement or trying to prove anything to anyone," he added.
Ashwin was all praise for Cheteshwar Pujara and Jasprit Bumrah for their stellar show in Australia.
"A lot of credit needs to go to (Cheteshwar) Pujara because he dead-batted them all through the series and took the wind away from their bowling attack. Once we got some runs, that Australian batting line-up was pretty inexperienced and they struggled," he added.
Ashwin also said it was important for the Indian top-order to grind it out and that is what Pujara did.
"It is really important for the top-order to grind it out. That's exactly what Pujara did. Credit to him because it wasn't that easy.
"He stayed disciplined through hours together to get those runs. It wasn't easy because in the past it was said that he was playing at a slow strike-rate. To go out of the team and come back and do what he does best and keep that mental focus was fabulous. I am very happy for him," the Tamil Nadu cricketer said.
Bumrah and Shami's performance deserved special mention, he feels.
"I thought Bumrah was fantastic. He definitely set the series up for us. In my view, both Bumrah and Shami were relentless with their pace. Especially Bumrah, you have to give him credit because he is in the first half of his Test career and he hardly gives any hit-me balls.
"And seeing it from a bowler's perspective and having led the bowling attack for a fair amount of time, I think it was fabulous," he added.
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