New Delhi: A rookie captain has its pros and cons and Kings XI Punjab hope appointing R. Ashwin as their leader will prove to be a masterstroke in the upcoming Indian Premier League season.
Punjab have never been “kings” of the IPL, faltering in their lone final appearance in 2014. They bought Ashwin for Rs 7.6 crore at the auction and later handed him leadership responsibilities, hoping a new captain will enable them to turn their fortunes around, despite the off-spinner never having led in T20s before.
Ashwin admitted he may be new as captain to the format but that does not stop him from being optimistic ahead of the tournament. “There is a lot of expectation regarding the team this time. We will seek to entertain our fans and hope to win,” Ashwin said at an event to launch the franchise’s jersey.
“You can associate leadership to pressure and power but I see it as responsibility. I hope to shape the team into a strong unit.”
Ashwin led Tamil Nadu to victory at the 2008-09 Vijay Hazare Trophy but it is his debut venture as a T20 captain. “I have never captained in T20s. So this will be a new challenge. I am excited and looking forward to it. In 2008-09, many senior players of the Tamil Nadu side signed up for the breakaway Indian Cricket League. We had many juniors in the team. The players moulded into a unit, helping us win.”
Ashwin is hoping for a repeat of that show, albeit in entirely different circumstances. “Over the years I have played under a lot of different captains, each having their strengths and weaknesses. I will try to incorporate good qualities of all those I have played under to form a winning combination,” the 31-year-old said.
A think tank of head coach Brad Hodge, bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad and mentor Virender Sehwag, who endorsed Ashwin’s credentials as skipper, will guide the right arm tweaker. “A bowling captain can be more valuable than a batting captain,” the former India batsman said.