India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who will be playing his 50th Test in the opening match against Sri Lanka at Galle said that the team is well past that moment when the difference of opinion emerged between captain Virat Kohli and former coach Anil Kumble. Ashwin also reckoned that Ravi Shastri will have a positive influence and the team is looking forward to working together with Shastri and produce some amazing results. "We are well past that moment (when the difference of opinion emerged between captain Virat Kohli and former coach Anil Kumble). The decision has been made and it is definitely something that I cannot really comment on. Ravi bhai (Shastri) has been a fabulous person to have in the dressing room," Ashwin told reporters after team's training session.
"Even when he was here last time, we lost that Test in Galle and really picked us up from that low point in our careers. And he (Shastri) is someone who can really have a positive influence on the dressing room. We are looking forward to working together and producing some amazing results," he added.
Ashwin termed Sri Lanka's tour of 2015 as a landmark for the Indian team for their come-from-behind 2-1 series win.
"In 2015, we were sandwiched into the middle of a leadership takeover. Virat had just taken over in Australia and we came here having played one Test in Bangladesh. We had set ourselves a lot of goals for each other and I would say we have achieved them and come out with flying colours over the last couple of years as a group," Ashwin added.
"We have produced a lot of good cricketers, some young cricketers have come in and put their hands up while others have excelled," he said.
The 2015 Lanka tour proved to be the watershed moment for at least three players -- Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and the then come back man Cheteshwar Pujara.
"That includes Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara and me. Pujara has made a sort of a comeback because he was not a part of that Galle Test in 2015. But he came on in the third Test (at the SSC in Colombo) and played exceedingly well on quite a tough wicket.
"From thereon, a lot of people have put their hands up and we have kind of become a pretty good unit. Sometimes, I feel that even good cricketers lose out in this particular team because of the quality we have in the dressing room," Ashwin said.
Ahead of his 50th Test, Ashwin was asked about some of his memorable dismissals, and he recalled: "Getting Kumar Sangakkara here in Sri Lanka especially in the second Test at the P Sara Oval (Colombo in 2015). AB de Villiers in Nagpur (2015), even though it was quite a helpful wicket but the set-up was very good.
"Shaun Marsh in Sydney in the second innings (2014) and David Warner in Bangalore (2017). There have been quite a few good balls that I have bowled," he added, recounting his favourite dismissals.
Ashwin cherishes the 'Cricketer of the Year' award and when asked to recall his favourite moments, the burly spinner said: "It has to be one of the special moments along with the 4-0 triumph over England. I think England were a far better side than the results showed. It was a kind of boxing game every time we walked out to play England. It was a closely-fought series, we won some of the tight moments.
"And I would also say the Bangalore Test (against Australia). It was fourth day when we won the Test match coming back from 1-0 down at Pune. We hadn't managed to do it against England in 2012 and it was good to pull one back on them. Australia came well prepared, so these three have to be top three moments."
In the early half of his Test career, Ashwin went through some hardships especially on the overseas tours, and was dropped from the Test side twice -- first at Durban against South Africa in 2013 and then at Adelaide on the 2014-15 Australia tour a year later.
Talking about missing that Adelaide Test, Ashwin tried to play it down.
"It does not mean much to me to be honest. As a cricketer, I only want to be excellent, I don't want to be a survivor by any stretch of imagination. If it doesn't go my way, it doesn't go my way," he said with an air of assurance.
Ashwin expressed confidence that he has the capability of doing well in life beyond cricket.
"I can do well in a lot of other careers in my life. I do think I am intelligent enough to cope on with it. I don't like to hold onto things desperately. I will only do so until I enjoy it.
"The day I think I cannot improve any more or cannot be excellent, I cannot perform at the best of my abilities, I don't think anybody needs to tell me. I am not a desperate person that way. I have a lot of pride in myself," insisted Ashwin.
(With PTI Inputs)