Rising Pune Supergiants offspinner R Ashwin has said that his team-mate M Ashwin, a legspinner, has the tools to become a good bowler, and praised him for turning the ball in the Twenty20 format.
"He's got all the tools, the most important thing for a spinner in the modern era is to spin the ball. Most of the spinners don't do it in this era and I don't blame them for it because of the format they play in," R Ashwin told iplt20.com in an interview along with M Ashwin. "I'm sure getting hit in this format, getting hit in this in tournament, getting his wickets, the whole learning curve is going to be important for him so I feel it's a great platform for him."
This is not M Ashwin's first IPL experience; the 25-year-old was a net bowler with Chennai Super Kings last year. R Ashwin, who was a part of Super Kings from 2008 till their suspension in 2015, was impressed with M Ashwin even then and remembered how his googly troubled the Super Kings batsmen.
"At CSK he bowled to all batsmen and all of them really struggled against him," R Ashwin said. "They couldn't pick his googly and couldn't hit him out for a single six, so those are all positives to me. In fact we wanted to pick him last year itself but somewhere or the other they left him out."
When asked about his sharp googly, M Ashwin said it was something he had not worked on much. "It comes naturally to me because I am an open-chested bowler and it's something I've had since childhood. I've never really worked on it." He also said that having a more experienced bowler like R Ashwin in the side helped him understand how to bowl on different pitches.
M Ashwin made his first-class debut for Tamil Nadu in 2012, and was handed his cap by R Ashwin. The legspinner did not get to bowl on debut in the rain-marred match, and was soon dropped.
"He had his first bowl for Tamil Nadu in the next game [after his debut] and I don't think he went very well, after which he was dropped," R Ashwin said of M Ashwin. "Different people perceive bowlers differently and it's very difficult to spot bowlers, but he looked like someone who has good revs. He spins the ball a mile - both inwards and outwards - that is a trait that is inborn and you have to look for such traits."
Speaking about his own role at a new franchise, R Ashwin said that he still did not know what exactly his role was. In 11 T20s since the Asia Cup, R Ashwin has bowled his full quota of overs only five times, and he played all those matches under MS Dhoni's captaincy. In the five IPL matches this season, R Ashwin has bowled four overs in a match three times.
"The role I'm playing at Supergiants is pretty different and it's pretty unique. We're still gelling into the team and I'm still finding my own feet in this team because I don't know what role I'm exactly playing so I'm just feeling into it. It's common when a franchise starts off new," he said. "I have gone out bowling my legspin a lot, I thought I should be using it this IPL. I don't know...the time might come where I will use it. I keep seeing him [M Ashwin] and the way he loads and try and ask him a few questions."
Apart from sharing their names and first-class and IPL dressing rooms, R Ashwin revealed he and M Ashwin, who is four years younger, had studied at the same college - Sri Sivasubramaniya Nadar College of Engineering in Chennai - though their time there did not overlap.