Kolkata, May 24 (IANS) Rajasthan Royals player Ravichndran Ashwin has revealed the pressures and the constant sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of non-performers in the Indian Premier League (IPL), and added that the “very plateaued inner atmosphere” inside his team’s dressing room has helped him take his game to a different level this season.
The India cricketer, who has played for several IPL franchises, with his longest stint being with Chennai Super Kings, and short stints with Rising Pune Supergiant, Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Capitals, was bought by RR in the mega auction, and along with Yuzvendra Chahal, forged a potent spin combination, taking the 2008 IPL champions into the IPL 2022 playoffs.
Ashwin’s team, which finished second after the league stage, will take on newcomers Gujarat Titans in Qualifier 1 at the Eden Gardens here later on Tuesday, eyeing a direct entry into the final.
Sharing his experience with various franchises over the years, Ashwin, who has taken 11 wickets in 14 games this season and been a handy batter, scoring 183 runs at an average of 30.50, said, “Sometimes we talk too much about the game. I’ve gone through so many years of the IPL and when teams aren’t doing well, the constant badgering we get is about chopping and changing again. But I think we’ve (RR) pretty much being maintaining a very plateaued sort of an inner atmosphere, which I think has helped.”
Ashwin, who has 156 wickets to show for his 13 seasons in IPL, said on a video posted by Royals on Tuesday that the 2022 season had been one of the “happiest years” in his career.
“This has clearly been one of the happiest years in my career in the IPL. I’ve been able to take my nuances and thought processes to a different level this year. Knowing is firmly believing, so, I know we can (win a second title).”
He added that making the playoffs as the No. 2 side and playing in Qualifier 1 was clearly something great in his first season with the franchise.
“That’s a good beginning actually. Last time we think we qualified was when Shane Warne was around (RR won the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008 with Warne as their skipper). Looks like, we are on to something special. To me, it’s been a great effort. If I look back at the season, it’s just been… we’ve had our low moments, but I thought we’ve been pretty standard in terms of how we’ve managed our inner space.
“The greatest strength of this team has been playing with freedom, playing with no expectations. And I think we should continue that and put a lot of pressure on whoever comes up against us in the rest of the games that we play.
“It’s been one very different year as far as I am concerned, as a cricketer and as a person. I must confess that this has easily been one of the happiest years of my experience at the IPL. It’s happened before. It’s nothing to do with the performance or qualification or anything, I’ve enjoyed so much in terms of how I’ve been able to explore, like I’ve always maintained with my cricket. The day I stop experimenting, the day I stop losing the passion for that is the day I’ll be done with the game.
“I’ve been able to take my nuances and thought processes to a different level this year. And I found that exact combination. I’ve really enjoyed my time here and the exploration part is something that I’ve been able to find exact expression, or exact form of expression,” added the ace spinner.