Team India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin recalled an incident when former head coach Ravi Shastri’s words made him feel absolutely crushed. The 35-year-old has been a key player of the India's Test team for the past decade. However, over a past few years, the talented bowler didn’t get much chance to display his skills overseas.
In an interview with 'ESPNcricinfo', Ashwin was asked how he felt when then coach Shastri named Kuldeep Yadav as India's No. 1 spinner overseas following his fifer in the Sydney Test during India tour of Australia.
“I hold Ravi bhai in high esteem. We all do. And I understand we all can say things and then retract them. In that moment, though, I felt crushed. 'Absolutely crushed'. We all talk about how important it is to enjoy your team-mates’ success. And I was happy for Kuldeep. I have not been able to get a five-for but he has a five-for in Australia. I know how big it is. Even when I have bowled well [at other times], I haven’t ended up with a five-for. So I am genuinely happy for him. And it’s an extremely happy occasion, to win in Australia," Ashwin said.
India scripted history on the tour as they registered their first-ever Test series win on Australian soil. Ashwin recalled how the words of Shastri affected him as he felt being thrown under the bus.
“But if I have to come and partake in his happiness, and the success of the team, I must feel like I belong there. If I feel like I am being thrown under the bus, how am I supposed to get up and come for a party to enjoy the team’s or team-mate’s success? I went back to my room and then I spoke to my wife. And my children were there. So we were able to, you know, shrug it off, and I still made it to the party, because, end of the day, we had won a massive series," he added.
The 35-year-old revealed that recurring injuries meant that he was playing under "excruciating pain", he played that series with a grade three abdomen tear and was frustrated with his body. He said the comparisons between him and Kuldeep made things worse for him.
“And you played a genuine part in winning the first Test. The first Test seemed like a distant memory by then. I had taken three of the first four wickets in the first innings after we were bowled out cheaply, and then when it got really flat in the final innings, I plugged away for 50-plus overs and took three wickets despite what turned out to be a grade three abdomen tear. In my mind, I had done something great for the team in excruciating pain, but all I heard was, “Nathan Lyon took six, Ashwin took three. As it is, I was frustrated with my body for letting me down when I was in really good bowling form. The last thing I needed was these comparisons and insinuations. Between that reaction and Sydney, it didn’t feel like I had played any part at all," Ashwin said.