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Ashwin and Iyer – conquer the Dhaka challenge with confidence

Last updated on 25 Dec 2022 | 07:58 AM
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Ashwin and Iyer – conquer the Dhaka challenge with confidence

It is not every day that India would find themselves in such a rut

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – said Michael Scott of The Office. It perhaps defines this partnership better than every word that you would read over the internet in the next few hours, and possibly even the days to come.

India were in a rut. Some Many had written India off, and you can’t quite blame them for doing that. With the pitch turning square, and Bangladesh spewing venom, victory looked far away from India’s reach. But if there was one partnership that you needed at that point to save your life – it was the one between Shreyas Iyer and Ravichandran Ashwin.

It is a partnership that oozes confidence. Iyer’s reaction looking at Ashwin walk out showed why he is highly rated, and in some eyes, the future captain of Indian cricket. He didn’t flinch, he in fact, showed more confidence than he ever did – one of the biggest traits for a captain.

The 28-year-old from Chembur is cut from a different cloth and very rarely, you find such players in India. Hardik Pandya is perhaps one of the biggest names in the country made of similar ilk and then there is Iyer.

Like others, the pathway was street. But the best part about Iyer, as he revealed in an interview with Mashable in the show "The Bombay Journey" was that he wasn’t as skillful as the others growing up but he had that confidence. He wanted to play with the big boys. In the day and age where there are several Indian cricketers with the numbers, there was Iyer with confidence.

“I’m not very fascinated with scoring runs, I was always fascinated with winning matches for the team. When I come later next Sunday, I wanted them to pick me first in the team,” this was Iyer talking about his cricketing journey in Maidaan, but his fascination for winning matches perhaps remains.

Iyer, if any, is late to India’s red-ball party. His Test call-up came certainly as a shock, not because of his caliber but because it came at a time when none least expected. Before his call-up, the right-hander was a red-ball monster, with an average of 52.71, toiling hard in the heat of Mumbai’s cricketing ladder, striking at 78.69.

That last part is what tilted the selection in his favour. At a time when India could have picked any batter, they picked Iyer and that since then has transformed Indian cricket, in the red-ball scene. Since his debut for the national team in Tests, Iyer has scored a Test century, missed two, and possibly played some innings for the lifetime.

All of this would have gone down the drain had he failed here against Bangladesh in Dhaka. Indian cricket fans are quite reactionary, if a player fails in one game they would not want to see him any time near the Indian dressing room. The same would have stood true for Iyer, had he failed.

But Iyer, from time and again has delivered like a Mr.Dependable. Since his debut, only the celebrated English cricketer, Jonny Bairstow has scored at a better average. This is where agenda plays a huge role. Bairstow is hailed as the most attacking cricketer from the Baz-ball era but when in reality, Iyer strikes at a better strike-rate (69.3) than him.

In Indian whites, the Mumbaikar has succeeded more than people would have counted but every time he walks out, there is assurance. On Sunday, a day where most of the Indian fans were already dressed in black, for a funeral of their cricketing team, Iyer was a grim-reaper, except that he saved India from a famous blush. 

His fascination with winning games for the country continues.


Ashwin’s fascination with the same element picks up from where Iyer left. When he walked out, Ashwin could have easily walked back without troubling the scorers, and would have had Bangladesh held onto their chances.

Any cricketer, including the top players could have hit a rut. Could have found a shell where he could have most easily cocooned himself and no one would have batted an eyelid. At 74/7, the funeral had already started, the symphony had already begun but the final rites were still a big question.

Despite averaging above 25s, despite the 39* in Sydney, 106 in Chennai, 38 and 32 in Kanpur, 46 in Johannesburg and 58 in Chattogram, very few firmly believed that Ashwin would pack a punch. The ones who have watched him closely from a very young age, know that the 36-year-old is as clutch as they get in international cricket.

Yet the recognition is often never there, at least for his batting. Anyone could have flinched away at the threat that Bangladesh posed during the fourth day of the second Test but not Ashwin. He had his eyelid always open, he saw the gaps that the top-order failed to notice and showcased a real cricketing masterclass on how to play spin.

During his stay at the crease, the Indian fans breathed a new life, one where they felt more relieved than they were in tears. 87.1% of his shots were controlled, 33.9% attacked, and 100% were played in a positive approach. Luck played a huge role but luck can only take a batter to an extent, the rest of it still has to be done by the batter.

“We've played enough cricket to realise that someone will put their hand up to win us the game,” said KL Rahul, who also said there was a lot of tension in the dressing room.

But cometh the hour, cometh the Vaathi – Ashwin – who perhaps told a befitting story of how he still is one of the best batters in this Indian setup. After he scored the winning shot, there was the roar from the Singam (Lion).

From conquering the streets to conquering the beating heart of Dhaka, Ashwin and Iyer script a new page in the Indian cricketing history.

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