Team India's bowling coach, Paras Mhambrey, has commended the unwavering team spirit and professionalism of senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, even when left out of the playing XI.
Mhambrey acknowledges that benching such a seasoned player like Ashwin is a challenging decision but emphasizes that team dynamics and surface conditions play a significant role in selection choices.
Ravichandran Ashwin featured in India's opening match of the 2023 World Cup against Australia, delivering economical figures of 1/34 off his 10 overs. However, in subsequent matches against Afghanistan and Pakistan, all-rounder Shardul Thakur was preferred over him.
In anticipation of India's upcoming clash against Bangladesh in Pune, Mhambrey shared his perspective on senior members like Ashwin having to sit out.
He expressed, “It's a really tough one. When you have a world-class bowler in your 15, and you are unable to give him a game. It's a tough call, and you have to take such calls. I think the conversation has always been team-centric. All the decisions that we have taken, not only before this game but over the last few years, are based on the team. We go with the side that's best for the surface and the best combination.”
Never seen him grumpy: Paras Mhambrey on Ashwin
Mhambrey lauded Ashwin for his selflessness and dedication to the team, stating, “In that sense, he has been a great lad, he understands that. He is a great team guy. I have never seen him grumpy, never seen him complaining anytime for any of the last few years he has been with us.
2011: It was not just the team's World Cup. It was the World Cup of every Indian common man.— Ashwin 🇮🇳 (@ashwinravi99) October 4, 2023
In E5 of #KuttiStorieswithAsh, @bhogleharsha and I look at the Legend of Dhoni's men as team India hit the pinnacle in the 2011 WC.
Gambhir, Sehwag, Sachin, Virat, Yuvi, Zak, Suresh,… pic.twitter.com/ZhmCumgRKN
“Having someone like that really helps. And I think credit goes to him. Even after so many years, he is there, he wants to do well for the team, he turns up every practice session, goes through the rigors, and he keeps bowling. He is a great team man.”
While Ashwin has had the opportunity to play one match, seasoned pacer Mohammed Shami is yet to secure a spot in the playing XI. This decision, despite Shami's exceptional performance in the ODI series against Australia leading up to the World Cup. Speaking about Shami's situation, Mhambrey reiterated the challenging nature of such choices.
“Honestly, it's never an easy decision. But I think we had a clear chat with him; whenever we select a squad, the messages from us are very clear. We pick a squad which we feel is best for that wicket. Sometimes, you will miss out. Someone like him will miss out… No doubt, it's a difficult decision, but you have to take that call. You only have 11 on the field,” explained the former cricketer.
With players like Ashwin and Shami maintaining their professionalism and readiness, the Indian team benefits from depth and versatility in their bowling options as they progress through the World Cup. Their collective strength remains a significant asset for Team India in the tournament.