Ravichandran Ashwin feels Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli are contrasting personalities as captains. Speaking to senior journalist Shekhar Gupta on NDTV's popular show Walk the Talk, Ashwin, who ended 2015 as the world's leading bowler and all-rounder, reveals how Dhoni and Kohli deal with players during a match. (Mahendra Singh Dhoni Terms R Ashwin As an Asset)
With 62 wickets in nine Tests, Ashwin also talks about a fantastic 2015 during which he became the first India bowler since Bishan Bedi in 1973 to achieve the milestone of finishing the year in number-one Test position.
Excerpts from the interview:
On best bowler prospects: To be the best spinner in the world is something that I always wanted to be but I am not there yet I reckon. I think the wheel keeps reinventing itself and one fine day, I'll surely get there but at this point in time, I'm very happy to be at least contemplated for being the best in the world.
On overseas performance: People just like to say some negative things about others but I don't attach enough importance to where I play and all that. I think the utmost important thing for me is to win games for your country, win games for your team, and if you ask me, if I retire with 10 Test tons, I'd be very happy.
On Dhoni and Kohli: I think what distinguishes Mahendra Singh Dhoni from the rest of the captains is that he's not very vocal, he doesn't communicate a lot. There are situations when in a game you feel like, 'Oh my God!' we are expecting a reaction and he just leaves his reaction in his kit bag and goes back to the room. I think that's a quality that is very, very hard to acquire. Right or wrong, is another issue altogether, but it's a very difficult quality to acquire, because when emotions are flaring high, you always make the wrong decision.
What separates Virat Kohli from the rest is his sheer zeal and enthusiasm. In his (Kohli's) brief career as a captain he's someone who is striving for excellence all the time and at the same time, pushing other players to excel. This I think is a great quality.
On Shane Warne: Shane Warne has to be my hero alongside Anil Kumble. I can't really say whether there's something that separates Kumble and Warne, but in terms of sheer skill and quality... if you had to pay 1000 USD and go watch a bowler, I'd rather go and watch Shane Warne because of the way he commanded respect and the way he dictated terms. Warne had just nine fielders to command on the ground and how beautifully he did that is something that I don't think anybody else can do.
On Ajanta Mendis: I was definitely inspired by Ajantha Mendis. In Chennai, we play a lot of 30-over club matches. There was this Sri Lankan side that came to play in the 30-over competition in Chennai. I happened to accidentally bump into Mendis. He bowled the carrom ball, he bowled the googly, bowled the off-spin .. you name it, he bowled it. When I saw him play I was quite inspired. I came back and told my dad about what I saw. My dad actually told me, why don't you give it a try? At first, I dismissed him but later gave it a nice thought and from then on, I started bowling it for the next two years.
On the 'Doosra': I think it's finished. And I don't think you can bowl it with a straight arm. It's just impossible to bowl it with a straight arm. With due respect and no offence to anyone, this is my opinion.
On the 'carrom ball': Basically, it's like using a carrom striker. So you hold the ball between your middle finger and index finger and your ring finger covers the middle finger. So you just use the middle finger to strike it. And depending on how many rotations you want to put on the ball, you use the index finger.