April 14, 2021

Sambaad Patra

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‘That is New India,’ ‘Pujaras’s Pooja’ and more: Indian cricketer Ashwin and fielding coach Sridhar share stories from the Sydney test – OpIndia

3 min read

Indian cricket superstar Ravichandran Ashwin shared stories from the tour of Australia on his YouTube channel on Friday. During the 18 minutes and 30 seconds video, the off-spinner narrated entertaining and funny inside stories. The video is in Tamil and subtitles are available in English.

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The Indian cricket team’s fielding coach, R Sridhar accompanied Ashwin for the video. Ashwin narrated that prior to the 5th day of the Sydney test, there were already discussions among ‘them’ where they would be having their lunch.

Ashwin recounts that ‘they’ (probably the Australian team although it is not clear precisely who they were, could very well be the ground staff) were already discussing, “India will be done by lunch. So, shall we have the lunch at the hotel?”

R Sridhar says, “India’s team togetherness. I saw that happen on that day 5. One of the most enthralling days of test cricket.” “Then there was Pujara,” he said. Ashwin then says that “Pujara’s Pooja” meant that one was in for a “long day”.

“You won’t let me score? No problem. You will hit my body? No problem. You will hit my finger? No problem. It looks ugly? No problem,” R Sridhar says of Pujara’s “adamant determination”. “We will rename as the Rock of Gibraltar,” says Ashwin. R Sridhar says, “He is a wounded, walking, fighting monk.”

Then, in a hilarious moment, the off-spinner compared Pujara to the Night King from Game of Thrones. “From the first season to the last, he will keep walking everywhere. Why are people even scared of him? He is walking in all slowness. Our Puj is also similar. Slowly walking.” He recounts seeing a meme on the internet where Hazlewood, Starc and Cummins are shown as young men when Pujara walks in to bat and old with grey beard by the time he is done with his innings.

R Sridhar says that he received some information from the Australian dressing room where they were analyzing Pujara’s batting. Hazlewood apparently threw his cap down and said, “Enough of me seeing Pujara again. I have seen enough on the field.”

About the flamboyant Rishabh Pant, Ashwin says, “Two things. One, we get scared. Two, the opponent gets more scared.” The fielding coach heaps praises on the Indian wicket-keeper and applauds his ability to score that many runs against Australia as a youngster with his unorthodox batting style. “That is New India,” he says.

The funniest bit, without a doubt, involved Shardul Thakur. Ravi Shastri, the head coach of the Indian team, called the youngster and said, “Go and tell them that I told this specifically.” Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin were batting at the time. Shivering, Thakur asked Shastri what he should tell them. The message that he needed to convey was that Ashwin should defend against the spinner from one end and Vihari should face the pacers at the other.

“Then out came Shardul charging from the dressing room,” says Ravichandran Ashwin, “He was catching his breath when he reached us.” Shardul then told them, “They told me so many things from the dressing room. But I am not gonna say any of it. You guys are already doing a great job. So, please continue.” Then Ashwin and Sridhar both burst into peels of laughter.

Ashwin recounts that he told Vihari, “We just survived a hostile spell of Pat Cummins. We got tattoos all over our body. We can survive anything from here. We are not gonna go out on our own. Just keep defending and bore them off. Just don’t flash anything outside off. Keep defending. We might get hit but we will come through.”

Ravichandran Ashwin also recalls the unsavoury sledging by Tim Paine. He says that it was the moment when they realised that the Australian team has lost it.

In the episode, the two discussed the 3rd Test Match between India and Australia at Sydney where the Indian team pulled off a draw under extremely difficult conditions due to brilliant batting from Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant, Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin. In the test that followed, the 4th and final test, India pulled off a remarkable victory under extraordinary circumstances after a collective team effort.

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