Intelligence is an underrated quality in sports nowadays. However, Ravichandran Ashwin has always impressed observers with his astute strategic thinking, innovation and lightning ability to learn. Not a little of this has to do with his education: he has a B. Tech in IT and possesses an MBA, both from SSN institutions.
Born in Chennai, Ashwin was inspired by his father to start playing cricket. His start as an opening batsman gave way to his brilliance as a bowler (first medium pace, and then off-spin) and he soon came to be known as an all-rounder. His first class debut was in the Ranji Trophy for his home state of Tamil Nadu at the age of 20, leading them to victory. The following year, he captained the team.
At this time, he was at SSN doing his engineering. Faculty members recall that Ashwin managed to balance his studies well with his burgeoning cricketing career. The college supported him wholeheartedly – arranging special classes, giving him scholarships, and more. At the same time, they insisted he attend classes at least one day a week, and did not spare him the hard work. This academic rigour obviously helped with the discipline, ability to take on challenges, and the shrewd improvisation he is now well known for. Others in college remember Ashwin as a boy with a fighting spirit, who led SSN to many inter-university wins, and bounced back from losses with a great attitude. After college, he joined Cognizant Technologies briefly, before turning his attention fully to cricket.
In 2010, he was bought by the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and played in the IPL for the first time. This is where he demonstrated his excellence on a national stage. He picked up 13 wickets during the season, and was judged the man of the tournament. Soon after, he racked up more accolades at the Champions League Twenty20 in South Africa. In 2011, Ashwin was part of the squad that won the World Cup for India after nearly 30 years.
However, Ashwin’s consistent and prolific character truly shone in Test cricket. He made his Test debut in 2011, and since then has rapidly added records to his name. Among other records, in 2017, he became the fastest bowler to take 300 Test wickets, shattering Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee’s 36 year-old record. He was only the fifth Indian bowler to have taken 300-plus wickets. His adaptation of the ‘carrom ball’ technique is legendary: innovation and ingenuity are his hallmarks.
The vast knowledge and throughtfulness which drive Ashwin’s cricketing abilities have led him to ever greater heights. He is now captain of the King’s XI Punjab in the IPL. He is considered one of the finest bowlers in the sub-continent, if not the world, some say, ranked second in the ICC’s Test rankings. He has received many awards, including the Arjuna Award from the Indian Government. Passion, hardwork, professionalism, and brains – R. Ashwin is a lethal combination of all these.
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