India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin said he took a backseat during the COVID-19 lockdown and gave himself time to reassess his goals and understand people's perception of him, stressing the time away from the game worked well for him.
Speaking to skipper Virat Kohli after the hosts hammered England by 317 runs in Chennai in the 2nd Test on Tuesday, Ashwin said he watched the likes of Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane and understood how they came back from tough situations by not trying to do something out of the book but by improving well within their space.
Ashwin revealed how he worked on his skills during the lockdown and he also touched upon how he was not desperate to succeed in the recent tour of Australia where India managed to win the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against-all-odds.
"Look, I think, the whole pandemic thing and the way we were shut off, I was thinking what is going to happen? If you take this game away from me, I am literally lost. Even when I am not playing some formats of the game, I am always switching the TV on like watching the preview and what is happening. I thought the game is not on anymore, I was reflecting upon myself and how I can learn from people. In the past when I have toured abroad, it was more of desperation to prove others wrong. But this time when I went to Australia, it was about proving to myself what I am capable of," Ashwin told Kohli in a video posted on the official website of BCCI.
The 34-year-old also highlighted how the likes of Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane have never been desperate to perform overseas, and how the duo always looks to better their skills.
"Over the years, I have noticed how some players are really balanced when they perform, the likes of you and Jinx (Ajinkya Rahane). When you (Kohli) went back to England in 2018, you wanted to do well but really within yourself and that was what I wanted to embrace," said Ashwin.
When Kohli asked Ashwin about giving such a performance in front of his home crowd, he replied: "I do not know, for the first time in my career, I feel blank. When I went out to bat yesterday, I was feeling blank, I came and asked you can I start sweeping? That's exactly how I am feeling, zero emotions and feelings inside, rarely I find myself like this. You know me very well, my mind is always ticking. For a change, it is really blank. That partnership between us really set the tone and I am so pleased for us. I had asked you about wanting to sweep, if you had asked me to take some time, then I might have acted differently."
Kohli, who was involved in a match-defining 96-run stand in the 2nd innings, wished Ashwin the best and urged him to continue doing what has been doing for the team in the recent past.
"I hope you keep continuing to be in this happy space that you are. We are loving to have you in this space and seeing you perform on the field in this way. Two more matches to go, hopefully, you continue to do well and keep putting in strong performances and keep doing well for the team," Kohli said.