In a country with 1.3 billion people, only 11 players get the opportunity to represent India in the much-beloved sport of cricket. Hence, it is very obvious that there is lot of competition among the players for the limited number of spots in the side and despite being professional cricketers, they do feel the pressure.
Something very similar happened with Ravichandran Ashwin when former Indian head coach Ravi Shastri termed Kuldeep Yadav as India's No. 1 overseas spinner after India's historic series win down under in 2018-19.
Ashwin opens up on Shastri's comments about Kuldeep
After Kuldeep registered a fantastic 5-wicket haul in the 4th Test, Ravi Shastri told Cricbuzz, "He (Kuldeep) plays overseas Test cricket and he gets five wickets, so he becomes our primary overseas spinner. Going ahead, if we have to play one spinner, he is the one we will pick. There is a time for everyone. But now Kuldeep is our frontline number one overseas spinner."
Couple of years later, Ravichandran Ashwin, who is India's now No. 1 choice of spinner for upcoming tour of South Africa, has revealed how he felt at that time. "I hold Ravi bhai in high esteem. We all do. And I understand we all can say things and then retract them. In that moment, though, I felt crushed, absolutely crushed," Ashwin told The Cricket Monthly.
He added, "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."
I felt like I am being thrown under the bus: Ashwin
The 35-year-old admitted that it was not easy for him to take part in Kuldeep's and India's success because he had a feeling that he did not belong there. However, he somehow managed to handle the situation and went to the party to celebrate India's historic series win.
"If I have to come and partake in his (Kuldeep’s) 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," Ashwin concluded.
With Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja out injured, the responsibility will be on the shoulders of experienced Ravichandran Ashwin this time around, to help India clinch another huge series victory in South Africa.