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Ashwin endorses 'fighter' Gambhir for India coach

Source: PTI
June 21, 2024 22:08 IST
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Photograph: BCCI / X

Veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Friday hailed Gautam Gambhir, the frontrunner to succeed Rahul Dravid as India's head coach, as a "fighter" and motivator par excellence, who gave him confidence in the nascent stages of his Test career. Ashwin recalled his talks with Gambhir during his first full series for India against New Zealand in 2012.

"I was playing my first full series. I only carried drinks during the first two years before the World Cup (in 2011). He gave me a lot of confidence at the beginning (of his career). I was not used to someone beyond my state (Tamil Nadu) giving me that sort of confidence," said Ashwin

Ashwin also pointed out that Gambhir is often misunderstood due to his candid nature and emphasized that he is a strong competitor with an incredible desire and hunger to win. Ashwin expressed his utmost respect for him, acknowledging his fighting spirit and competitive nature.


'Dhoni didn't know someone like me existed'

In 2010, Ashwin had a breakthrough in the Indian Premier League while playing for the Chennai Super Kings under the leadership of MS Dhoni. He recalled an incident from the 2008 Challenger Trophy which caught Dhoni's attention. "It's an evolving relationship. MS didn't even know someone like me existed in 2008," he remembered. "And because of that, I made it my life's goal; from 2009, it was to get the wicket of MS Dhoni. When a person has a goal like this, he will go crazy when an opportunity to achieve it pops up."

Ashwin reflected on a match in Nagpur. "We were playing the Challenger Trophy, and I bowled an unbelievable spell. MS struggled through that spell in Nagpur. Once, when he tried to play, the ball went through his gates. I got him out in the final. From then on, I think he saw somebody with skill, and the relationship matured."

Once a player earned the trust of Dhoni, Ashwin said they would get ample chances to prove themselves.

"One of MS' usual qualities is that if he decides this horse (a player) is not ready to race, he will not use you. He needs to know you're a horse. But once he knows you're a horse, only when you feel like giving up, he will look past you. That is MS Dhoni; he believes in you," he added.


'Kirsten, an outstanding human being'

Ashwin's participation in India's 2011 World Cup victory was limited. However, he recalls that the then head coach, Gary Kirsten, and the entire team made him feel appreciated and acknowledged his talent.

Following the victory, Gary conveyed his belief that Ashwin would achieve even greater success in the future, expressing regret for not being able to witness it first-hand.

Additionally, Ashwin noted that Gary informed him of his resignation before making a public announcement. Ashwin also reflected on his limited involvement in the lead-up to the World Cup, attributing it to a perceived novelty factor.

Furthermore, Ashwin shared an instance when he was set to play a match but ultimately did not participate due to a strategic decision made by the team.

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