Matches (15)
IPL (1)
WI vs SA (1)
ENG v PAK (W) (1)
County DIV1 (5)
County DIV2 (4)
CE Cup (1)
USA vs BAN (1)
ENG v PAK (1)

Ashwin touched by Rohit's 'beautiful' gesture in Rajkot: 'I'd give my life for him on the field'

India allrounder opens up on what happened during those 48 hours when he had to leave the team in the middle of a Test to visit his mother in hospital

R Ashwin and Rohit Sharma discuss tactics, India vs England, 1st Test, Hyderabad, 3rd day, January 27, 2024

R Ashwin on Rohit Sharma: "He's an outstanding leader with a heart of gold"  •  BCCI

An emotional R Ashwin has expressed his immense gratitude towards India's "outstanding" captain Rohit Sharma for his leadership and "heart of gold" during last month's Rajkot Test against England.
Ashwin, who took his 500th wicket and played his 100th Test during the series against England, had to temporarily withdraw from the third Test in Rajkot because of a health emergency concerning his mother. He left his team-mates after play on the second day and rejoined them late on the fourth day.
"It all kicked off on the second day, though it's a bit blurry now," Ashwin said on his Youtube channel. "I was on 499 wickets I think, and was hoping to reach the milestone in the second Test in Vizag, but it wasn't to be. But on day two in Rajkot, I finally got Zak Crawley. It wasn't a particularly great ball, but I finally got to the landmark."
"After the end of play, I had agreed to do some interviews and went to the press area. I'd just got my 500th wicket, so was expecting a call from my wife or father. I was a bit surprised not to hear from them, since it was almost 7 PM. But I figured they must be busy with interviews and responding to congratulatory messages, so didn't think much of it.
"After being unable to reach my parents, I finally got hold of my wife on the phone. Her voice was breaking. I told her I was just about to get into the shower, and she asked me to go somewhere alone, away from my team-mates. She said that my mother had collapsed after a severe headache."
Ashwin said he couldn't immediately process the news, particularly with the Test, and series, in the balance. England had ended the second day on 207 for 2 in response to India's 445, with the series tied 1-1.
"I just blanked out. I don't remember what I did, but I was crying," Ashwin said. "I didn't know what to ask her. I didn't want anyone to see me cry - it was an instinctive reaction. I just sat alone in my room, not knowing what to do.
"On one hand, I knew I had to go back home, but there was also the thinking of how can I let my team-mates down. I couldn't strike that balance. I didn't know what to tell the coach or captain. I was in the XI, and if I go home now, we'd be left with only 10 players, giving England the advantage.
"But I was also just thinking about my mother. And when was the last time I spoke to her. In my mind, I knew I had to go back home and see her, but the doctors were informing us that nobody was allowed in to meet her."
It was at this point of time, Ashwin said, that Rohit and head coach Rahul Dravid came into the dressing room, and made his decision a straightforward one.
"I think since I wasn't answering my phone, my wife must have called Rohit and Dravid to tell them the news. Rohit came in, saw me thinking, and just said, 'what are you doing? You need to leave right away. Please just pack your bags and go'".
The next challenge was finding a quick way back home, but with no flights to Chennai scheduled till the next morning, Ashwin got help from an unexpected source.
"I must say a big thank you to Cheteshwar Pujara as well, who spoke to a lot of people and arranged for a chartered flight for me.
"Our team physio Kamlesh Jain is a good friend. Rohit told Kamlesh to accompany me on the flight to Chennai, despite Kamlesh being one of only two physios in the team.
"I told Kamlesh, 'it's ok, please stay back'. But when I went to the board the flight, Kamlesh and a security person was already there. Not just that, but Rohit regularly kept calling Kamlesh to check in on me and see how I'm doing. That deeply moved me. In a selfish society like ours, that man who decides to take a moment to think of someone else's wellbeing, he's truly great.
"Rohit is a special person, an outstanding leader, with a golden heart. I saw it first-hand. I'd give my life for him on the field, that's the kind of captain he is. It's because of these qualities that he's won so many titles, including five IPLs. I pray to God that Rohit achieves even more in his career and life."
Ashwin's stay in Chennai was brief, and after being informed his mother would make a recovery, he knew he had to re-join his team-mates in Rajkot. "My mother was initially surprised to see me. And that's the difference in parents of previous generations and today's. She only wanted what's best for me. And wanted me to be with the team. Even in those circumstances, she kept thinking of me."
With the help of BCCI secretary Jay Shah, Ashwin was able to take another chartered flight from Chennai to Rajkot, and eventually linked up with his team-mates on day four. India won the Rajkot Test by 434 runs to take a 2-1 lead and eventually won the series 4-1 in Dharamsala with Ashwin taking nine wickets in his 100th Test.