Gritty Ashwin confident of playing in final

 Suresh Raina (right) takes a close look at Ravichandran Ashwin’s temple after he was hit hard by a shot from Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Saurabh Tiwary. AFP

It was the kind of blow that could have inflicted serious damage, but fortunately for Ashwin – not to mention his family, friends, well-wishers and the Chennai Super Kings – and striker Saurabh Tiwary himself, the brave Tamil Nadu off-spinner is none the worse for the hit, and should in all probability turn up for the defending champions in the final of IPL IV on Saturday night. The incident in question happened off the last ball of Ashwin’s spell in Qualifier 1 at the Wankhede stadium on Tuesday night, when a ferociously struck straight drive by the left-handed Tiwary struck him flush on the temple before bounding away to long-on.

Ashwin immediately went down in a heap, but quickly assuaged fears by getting back up on his feet, walking away off the park with the physio, and then watching with his head bandaged from the dug-out as his team-mates pulled off an improbable win over Royal Challengers Bangalore.

As is the norm in such cases, Ashwin didn’t go for a scan until a few hours had elapsed after the incident. The CT scan was eventually performed at 1 in the morning, and the result was encouraging in that it revealed no serious injury.

Advised to rest

Ashwin has been advised total rest for the next couple of days, but sounded in high spirits as he looked ahead to the title clash at the MA Chidambaram stadium, in front of his home crowd, against as yet undecided opponents. “To have three days’ gap ahead of the final is a massive help,” remarked Ashwin, silently grateful that the Super Kings made it to the title round at the first possible instance. “The physio has said there is nothing to worry. A final call on whether I can play or not will be taken by the doctor, but from my side, I am quite confident of playing.”

The Tiwary strike might have stirred Ashwin up a bit, but he surely is not shaken. “It was a very hard hit,” he recalled.

“I tried to get my hands to the ball and it did graze my finger, but it was too late. I was dazed for a few minutes after I was hit, but it felt fine after a while. The pain was bearable and the swelling is also under control.”

Ashwin has been a massive influence for the Super Kings, bowling without nerves in the Power Play overs, picking up crucial wickets and still going at an admirable 6.30 runs per over. Already this season, he has taken 17 wickets in 15 matches, and has every reason therefore to want to play on Saturday.

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