R Ashwin said he’s looking forward to playing in a young and exuberant Delhi Capitals side under a clear-headed captain Shreyas Iyer and coach Ricky Ponting. The off-spinner hailed the team’s discipline during the six-day mandatory isolation, saying he heard no noise in the hotel corridor which showed how badly the team wanted to get out and play cricket.
“I had heard a lot about the Delhi Capitals, and I look forward to working with Punter (Ponting),” Ashwin said in a video posted by Delhi Capitals on Twitter. “I’ve had some wonderful conversations with him over the last week or so. Shreyas is a lovely young leader who is very clear in his head, I’ve had a few chats with him too.
“The whole atmosphere around the team is energetic with the youngsters. The mood in the camp is extremely exuberant. We’ve all gone through a difficult few months, and it’s great to see people in high spirits, mingling with each other despite being locked in for a week in the hotel. We were very disciplined as a group, and everyone was strict about staying in. I think that showed how much we want to go out there and play together.”
Ashwin said the six days in isolation was ‘one of the worst time of my life’ as he had literally nothing to do other than spend time on the mobile phone, while also not being able to enjoy the view of Burj Khalifa and Dubai Lake due to the heat. Having come out of it for a couple of practice sessions, Ashwin was a relieved man.
“Seeing a few human beings and being out in the open is not something we’ve done in the last few months, so yes, I’m excited. We’ve got nets, and top quality batsmen to bowl to, and then you’re testing yourself against the best. You know action is coming up and you’re back in the nets, so it’s an amazing feeling,” he said.
Ashwin spoke about his role in the side, saying he’d also be looking to contribute with the bat in the lower order.
“I feel that in the shorter format of the game, it’s harder to be a bowler and easier to be a batter. My job is to come in at 7 or 8, and you’re going to get 5-6 deliveries at the most, sometimes not even that. The last 2 years at Punjab, I started understanding these roles better. I understand my role with the bat better now, and I can contribute better than I have done in the past. Of course bowling is what I enjoy. I don’t mind going for runs, it’s a challenge I love,” he said.
Ashwin said Ponting has made it clear to the group to manage their workloads and not burn themselves in their over eagerness to play again.
“We’ve got a lot of energy reserve at this point and the eagerness to play the game is quite prevalent,” he said. “The one thing Punter has made very clear to us is that we have to manage our workload well, and that’s going to be the key. This is probably the longest window an IPL team gets for practicing for the tournament. It’s usually 5-7 days, I’ve even joined the team just 2 days before the start because I’ve been playing for the national side right before that.
“This is actually a wonderful opportunity to top up your skills, try out new things. It’s like a laboratory to try things out in the game that you love so much. You can really pace yourself out, use your creativity and imagination, and settle into things as the tournament kicks off. It will be a slow and skeptical start for most teams, and that’s one of the areas where I’d like to capitalize.”