BCCI President Sourav Ganguly claimed it was then-captain Virat Kohli who vouched for the inclusion of R Ashwin in the squad for the T20 World Cup in the UAE. The off-spinner was a surprise inclusion in the contingent and was picked ahead of the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal.
Prior to his recall to the senior T20 team ahead of the World Cup, Ashwin had last played a contest in 2017. While his selection in the squad was deemed arguable at that point in time, he proceeded to silence his critics with a solid set of performances. The veteran was one of the lone bright spots for Team India in a rather forgettable campaign.
Ganguly admitted that he was himself skeptical of Ashwin’s inclusion in the team. While speaking with Boria Majumdar, the former India captain said:
“I wasn’t sure whether he would be part of the white-ball team again. But then Virat Kohli wanted him to be part of the World Cup. And, whatever little bit of opportunity he got, I thought he was superb,”
“Everybody speaks about him. Look at Rahul Dravid’s statement after the (Kanpur) Test match – he called him an all-time great. You don’t need rocket science to judge Ashwin’s talent. My appreciation just comes from what I see. It may be Ashwin, it may be (Shreyas) Iyer, it may be Rohit (Sharma), it may be Virat (Kohli),”
The off-spinner’s impressive returns in the tournament earned him a selection for the home series against New Zealand. He played in the first two matches and was among the pick of the bowlers before being rested for the final match.
Ashwin’s unparalleled credentials with the red ball reached a new level as he scooped up the player of the series award. He also broke a slew of records including being the third-highest wicket-taker for India in Tests.
Ganguly termed Ashwin as a champion winner, highlighting some of the teams that have attained glory with his presence in the team. He added:
“Look at the number of winning teams he has been a part of. 2011 World Cup, he was part of the winning team for India. 2013, when he won the Champions Trophy, he was a leading bowler in that tournament. When CSK won IPLs, he was the main bowler for them, bowling in the powerplay and difficult situations.”