To stay away from cricket was very tough: Ashwin

India's Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates the dismissal of South Africa's Quinton de Kock on third day of the 1st cricket test match between India and South Africa at Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, in Visakhapatnam on Friday. (PTI Photo)

The last year has been an extremely difficult period for R Ashwin, the leading wicket-taker in the current Indian side. Injury troubles, statements from the team management that he won’t be the number one choice spinner — home or abroad — and his subsequent benching during the West Indies tour must have really hurt his pride.

These happenings didn’t bode well for one of the best off-spinners in the world and arguably India’s biggest match-winner in home conditions.

The pressure to perform, even on home turf which he has ruled with an iron fist, is probably highest at the moment in his career despite having an out-of-sorts Kuldeep Yadav in the squad.

It looked like he was affected by the lack of assurance from the team management as he ran out of plans when South Africa’s Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock laid siege on him. He conceded over a 100 runs — a rarity for him in the sub-continent — but he managed to redeem himself with his 28th career five-wicket haul.

Speaking to media post the day’s play, he admitted not playing international cricket when fit really hurt his feelings. “To stay away from not playing cricket itself is very tough for me,” said Ashwin on Friday.

“In order to substitute that, I played whatever games I got. I tried and made an opportunity for myself to go and play some county cricket. I tried and played the TNPL as much as I could, played some league cricket in Chennai. It was very important for me to tick those numbers off because that is essentially where I came from. Going back and playing there is probably the best thing that could have happened for me.”

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