Chennai: Dreams do come true. Need proof? Just ask R Ashwin. On Tuesday he won the man of the match award for his all-round show during the second Test against England on his home ground, the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, Chennai. His ton in India’s second innings and a match haul of eight wickets was instrumental in India’s 317-run series-levelling win.
This was his fourth game in front of his home crowd and the fans were always behind him during the three and a half day that the game lasted. And Ashwin enjoyed every bit of it and later tweeted the crowd for making him feel like a hero – “I can’t express how I feel right now, but I am so very grateful to each and everyone who has wished me over the last few days. I would also like to thank the #KnowledgableChennaiCrowd for turning up in numbers and making me feel like a hero.”
Speaking to the official broadcaster after the game, Ashwin spoke about the dream that he had seen as a kid, “When I was young I've wondered if I would ever play on this ground and if people would turn out and clap for me. I've played here as an eight-nine year-old. I've watched matches from these stands, my dad would get me here for most of the games. I’m speechless right now. I've played four Tests matches here and this is easily the most special Test match. It gave me a hero feeling.”
Speaking about the support that he got from the fans at the stadium, Ashwin said, “Every time I bowled or removed my cap there was a different feeling [because of the cheers]. During Covid times when there's hardly any cricket, the knowledgeable Chennai crowd came in large numbers without worrying. I dedicate this win to the Chennai crowd. We went one-up after they allowed the crowd, hopefully we continue to do well [in the presence of crowds] in Ahmedabad as well.”
Wickets fell in their minds
Ashwin also spoke about the pitch, which has been a topic of discussion since the Test started. He said, "This wicket is very different to what we played in the first game. That (in the first Test) was a red soil wicket and this is a clay wicket. As much as it looked bad from the top, many people were predicting a lot of things - those balls weren't the one that got the wicket.
“It was the mind that was actually getting the wickets. We had to play in the minds of the batsmen to get the wicket. It's easier to say 'go out there, bowl and get wickets' but it's not as easy as it looks because I've been playing here for years now. It takes a certain amount of pace and guile to be able to do it."