Now with a couple of games remaining in the season, Varun has been sidelined by injury having played only one game. But another TN spinner stepped up to the plate to replace him in the Kings XI ranks. Murugan Ashwin was in a similar position as Varun when he was bought for Rs 4.5 crores by Rising Pune Supergiants in 2016 from a base price of Rs 10 lakh.
Now in his fourth season of the IPL, the TN leg-spinner hasn’t set the T20 tournament alight but is slowly starting to find his bearings at 28 years of age. Although he only has five wickets to his name from eight games this season, his value lies in his accuracy in the middle overs where he maintains an economy rate of 6.82 — the best among all of Kings XI bowlers.
In fact, Ashwin’s economy rate matches up to some of the best in this season including the likes of Rashid Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bumrah and is only slightly above Jofra Archer's.
Ashwin is pleased to pair up with his namesake Ravichandran Ashwin, who is his skipper at Kings XI, and ready to be an honest apprentice to the senior spinner.
“Definitely helps to play under R Ashwin, he knows me really well and we share a good rapport. We have played a lot together, he has captained me at state level and knows what I bring to the table,” Ashwin told CricketNext.
“We have lots of interactions and I try to take his advice and put it into action. He is a very experienced bowler, I ask him a lot of questions about how to plan against a particular batsman prior to the match,” he added.
What drew him to the complicated art of leg-spin?
“I started at the age of six and I used to bowl a lot at home. My parents used to encourage me a lot to bowl by buying me lot of tennis and rubber balls, my leg-spinner turned a lot and when the right-hander was batting it gave me a lot of excitement to beat the bat. So I continued to bowl leggies,” Ashwin, who joined Kings XI for Rs 20 lakh, said.
The tag of mystery spinner might be behind him now but the TN leggie makes optimum use of traditional leg-spinner’s variations like the googly and the flipper to keep the batsmen under check.
No wonder he doesn’t have one particular idol when it comes to bowling leg-spin.
“I watched a lot of videos of (Anil) Kumble and (Shane) Warne. I watched most of the leg-spinners, trying to imbibe the good things and learn the best things from the videos. I go through the videos and decide what works for me. I see a lot of videos of legends of the game as well and don’t think one person is my idol,” he said.
Asked about his IPL journey so far, Ashwin said, “IPL has been really good. This is my fourth season of IPL, really fortunate that I have been able to contribute to team’s success this year. So far it’s gone well, a journey that started in 2016, since then it has been a learning curve, learnt a lot with every match and got better every time,” he said.
Ashwin, who continues to be a T20 specialist in domestic cricket, said that he is continuously trying to work on improving his variations.
“I need to be one step ahead of the batsmen, so I need to perfect my variations. I want to keep evolving as a bowler and also improve my stock delivery which is my leg-spinner. I am also working to get more accuracy and try to spin it bigger,” he said.
First Published: May 2, 2019, 7:54 PM IST