He has always fancied himself as a batsman. At junior level, he was a decent opener and those who have followed him from those times are hardly surprised to see R. Ashwin excel with the bat at the Test level.

The Tamil Nadu off-spinner would love to be called an all-rounder. His former state coach, W.V. Raman, noticed his desire to contribute with the bat too and encouraged Ashwin to back himself. “He always had it in him. He would make everyone feel he had lot of time to play. He has a good hand-eye co-ordination and always loved his batting,” said Raman.

Big impact

Ashwin’s unbeaten 83 on Saturday saved India the embarrassment of an innings defeat against England. As he saw the established batsmen perish Ashwin assumed the responsibility of bringing some quality to the contest in the middle.

Raman revealed, “I used to challenge him to make a century and get a five-wicket haul in the same first-class match to qualify as an all-rounder. I was convinced when he did that in a Test.” He took five for 156 and hit 103 at No. 8 against the West Indies in Mumbai last year.

Ashwin’s last appearance at Mumbai, against England, also saw him do well with the bat. His 68 in the first innings was the best after Cheteshwar Pujara’s 135.

The 26-year-old, after six seasons of first-class cricket, has emerged the best candidate to fill the all-rounder’s role.

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