R Ashwin has said he will need to come to grips with new captain Virat Kohli’s aggressive brand of captaincy and different style of communication in the upcoming limited-overs series against England.
Since his international debut in 2010, Ashwin has played most of his short-format cricket under MS Dhoni’s captaincy, but has over the last two years become Kohli’s go-to bowler in Test cricket.
“It will be different in terms of interactions you’ll have,” Ashwin said in Pune, where India meet England in the first ODI on January 15. “Before, when I used to play alongside Mahi – which won’t happen this game onwards – it’s almost about communication through from top of the mark to the keeper.
“Obviously, Virat will be around at short midwicket or short cover, but it is going to be different in that terms. We have to try and get used to those communications.”
For the most part of his captaincy, Dhoni banked on his spinners to establish control in the middle overs by drying up the runs. Kohli, according to Ashwin, doesn’t mind going for wickets at the cost of runs. “I’ve never played under Virat even at RCB or something. I just played one whole ODI series with him against Sri Lanka,” Ashwin said.
“Virat, on occasions, can be a little aggressive and that’s the one thing that I need to try and adjust to. He likes attacking, he likes picking wickets through the middle overs. Even at the cost of some runs. And obviously, giving those extra runs to try and get a wicket is not such a bad thing.”
Ashwin, however, felt Dhoni would continue to play a crucial role from a communication and leadership perspective. “I feel Mahi is going to hold the key because he’s the keeper and he’s going to bring that invaluable experience with him,” he said. “It’s going to be very, very important that we try and take as much as valuable inputs from him and try and take the team forward.”
When Ashwin takes the field in Pune, it would be exactly a year to the day he last played an ODI after he was rested for the Zimbabwe series in June and the home series against New Zealand. With the limited-overs series being sandwiched in the middle of a long Test season, he felt it was a question of making a mental adjustment.
“We played T20s in America in between, that was a bit of a good switch. I thought I switched up pretty well,” he said. “I am sure it is going to be a challenge. We are going to get into the practice. Next three-four days is going to be very important. I tried to tick as many boxes as possible when I practised in Chennai. But nothing like game-time.
“I think we’re playing a full-strength Indian team after a long time – I don’t know when we [last] played a full-strength side. We also have Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) back in the side. So that’s also going to add to your experience. I think this England side has played some cracker of one-day tournaments in the last year or so. They’ve made some mammoth scores in England as well. So they are a side which will look to be positive.”