Ravi Shastri recalls his praise for Kuldeep Yadav which 'crushed' R Ashwin Photograph:( AFP )
Recently, R Ashwin opened up on Ravi Shastri's words of praise for Kuldeep Yadav during India's 2018/19 tour of Australia. Now, the former Indian head coach has reacted to Ashwin's remark.
India beat Australia in the four Tests during their 2018/19 tour Down Under to win their first-ever series in whites in Aussies' backyard. During the series, the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Mayank Agarwal, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah led the charge for India's historic win whereas the likes of Ishant Sharma, Captain Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav also played their parts.
Back then, Ashwin accounted for six scalps in the series opener in Adelaide before injury ruled him out of action for the remainder of the Tests. Kuldeep featured in the last Test, in Sydney, and returned with a five-fer to earn words of praise from then head coach Ravi Shastri. At that time, Shastri labelled Kuldeep as India's best 'overseas spinner'.
Ashwin recalled Shastri's words, which 'absolutely crushed' him while he watched the proceedings from the sidelines due to injury concerns.
Ashwin recently reacted to Shastri's remark and told in an interview with The Cricket Monthly, "I hold Ravi bhai in high esteem. We all do. In that moment, though, I felt crushed. Absolutely crushed. We all talk about how important it is to enjoy your team-mates' success. And I was happy for Kuldeep. I have not been able to get a five-for but he has a five-for in Australia. I know how big it is. Even when I have bowled well [at other times], I haven't ended up with a five-for. So I am genuinely happy for him. And it's an extremely happy occasion, to win in Australia."
"But if I have to come and partake in his happiness, and the success of the team, I must feel like I belong there. If I feel like I am being thrown under the bus, how am I supposed to get up and come for a party to enjoy the team's or team-mate's success? I went back to my room and then I spoke to my wife. And my children were there. So we were able to, you know, shrug it off, and I still made it to the party, because, end of the day, we had won a massive series," he added.
Now, Shastri has reacted to Ashwin's statements and told the Indian Express, "Ashwin did not play the Test in Sydney and Kuldeep bowled well. So it's fair I give Kuldeep a chance. If that hurt Ashwin, I am very happy. It made him do something different. My job is not to butter everyone’s toast. My job is to state facts without agenda."
Ashwin, however, played a bigger role in India's second successive Test series win in Australia during the 2020/21 Border-Gavaskar Trophy Down Under. He returned with 11 wickets in 3 Tests to end as India's second-highest wicket-taker in their historic 2-1 series triumph over Tim Paine & Co. Injury, however, ruled him out of action for the series finale at The Gabba, Brisbane.
At present, Ashwin-starrer Team India is gearing up for the series opener of the three Tests versus South Africa, which gets underway on December 26 in Centurion.