Muttiah Muralitharan hails MS Dhoni's influence on 'smart' R Ashwin
Muralitharan has seen Ashwin from close quarters. The world's highest wicket-taker in Test cricket was with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the IPL.
New Delhi: The relationship between former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is one of the most talked about topics in Indian cricket. Both players have starred together in numerous matches for India and also the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Dhoni, arguably India's most successful captain, by virtue of his towering presence, calming influence, and unrivaled man-management skills, has managed to leave indelible marks in many of his team-mates. And Ashwin was no different.
Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan stated that fact when talking about Ashwin's emergence as one of the spin greats of modern cricket on the sidelines of the former's introduction as the mentor of Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) franchise Thiruvallur Veerans in Chennai.
Muralitharan, in fact, has seen Ashwin from close quarters. The world's highest wicket-taker in Test cricket was with another Chennai-based franchise, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the IPL.
"I have seen Ashwin since my Chennai Super Kings days. He always had the talent. Now, he is getting better with experience," Muralitharan was quoted as saying by Deccan Chronicle.
He also claimed that IPL, probably world's best cricket league, has helped Ashwin gain maturity. Ashwin has been a weapon of choice of Dhoni at CSK, where they have lifted the coveted title twice in 2010 and 2011, besides featuring in other three finals.
"In a way, IPL helped him gain experience and then Dhoni guided him in the right way. Dhoni believed in Ashwin and brought him to the Indian side. And Ashwin is also a smart cricketer. He is probably bowling his best at the moment," Muralitharan added.
Following the recent series against Australia, which India won the four-match Test series 2-1 at home, Ashwin has conceded his numero uno status in the ICC ranking to Ravindra Jadeja. But the second-ranked ICC Test bowler is expected to regain the lost ground in Sri Lanka, where India will play a three-match series as part of a full tour.
And that's what Muralitharan expects Ashwin to do in Lanka. The spin wizard already declared India as the huge favourites.
"Obviously, India are the favourites. Sri Lanka are not playing well and India can capitalise on that. The spin combo of R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will do well in Sri Lanka if the hosts decide to roll out turning tracks. The real challenge for India will come in South Africa. The nature of the wickets in South Africa is such that the role of spinners will be minimal," he added.