India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin recalled the time MS Dhoni trusted him to open the bowling for Chennai Super Kings even though he had leaked 23 runs in the super over of the last match at 2010 Champions League T20.
Ashwin, while in conversation with Harsha Bhogle on Cricbuzz, revealed that the super over in 2010 was his “biggest learning curve”. Facing Victoria Bushrangers in a group-stage match at CLT20, CSK managed to restrict the Australian side to 162, a total they themselves managed in the first innings.
Suresh Raina picked three wickets in the final over while defending 11 runs to force the game to a one-over eliminator. Ashwin, who returned figures of 1-34 from his four overs, felt it was an opportunity to make a mark and volunteered to bowl the over, only to end up conceding 23 runs, which CSK failed to chase.
“We were playing in South Africa against Victoria Bushrangers and the game ended in a super over,” he said. “I think I might have picked a wicket or maybe not. The moment the game ended to a super over, I think Raina bowled the last over and got us to the super over. We were standing in a huddle, as they were all talking, I just put my hand up and said I wanted to bowl the super over. Nobody volunteered to do it. There was Doug Bollinger, Murali… But for me, it felt like an opportunity of trying to land a game and win a game for the team.
“From 2008 I had become a better cricketer after the stint with CSK. In 2009, I was genuinely hoping for an opportunity but I didn’t get it. In 2010 IPL I was a critical part of CSK winning that campaign. Going into the Champions Trophy (Champions League T20), I thought, here is my stage, here is a super over. I had no idea, I must have been really crazy. If I think as a captain even today, bowling a super over as a spinner is not the greatest of ideas. Somewhere I put my hand up knowing nothing about what was going to come… He [Dhoni] didn’t even think, he just stopped the meeting abruptly, gave me the ball and went off.
“I bowled the over, I succumbed to pressure, David Hussey hit me for a six. Then I started chasing the over, I started bowling quicker and quicker. Didn’t execute the yorkers. And now if I think back, ‘What the hell have you done? You volunteered to bowl the over, the man gave you the super over. CSK is a team you wanted to be a part of, you wanted to be in the XI, you wanted to be a performer and you’ve almost pushed the team out.’
“As I bowled the 22-run (23-run) over, MS just walked across, I was sitting down crouched on the pitch, not believing what was happening, MS just walked past me and said “you didn’t bowl the carrom ball, you should have bowled it” and he left. That’s all he said.”
if ashwin lost us that super over, boy has the comeback kid more than made up for it since. well done, boy. you’re da man. #clt20
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) September 26, 2010
Ashwin, as he later admitted, wouldn’t have given a youngster, like himself back in 2010, the ball in the next match. But Dhoni kept his faith in the off-spinner and asked him to open the bowling.
“I’ll tell you something if I was the captain, I wouldn’t have given the ball to a youngster who had done what he had done in the last game and MS gave me the ball that night.”
CSK would eventually go on to win the 2010 CLT20 with Ashwin finishing as the top wicket-taker.