IPL 2018: Ravichandran Ashwin is a calculated, thinking skipper – David Miller

is acknowledged as a thinking, articulate cricketer, but the India off-spinner was somewhat an unknown quantity when Kings XI Punjab appointed him skipper for the Indian Premier League 2018.

The 31-year-old made a mark in the as a match-winner for Chennai Super Kings before going on to establish himself as the leading Test spinner for India.

He was bought by the now defunct in 2016. Following a subdued season, he missed the 2017 IPL due to fitness issues.

With Ashwin losing his spot in India’s limited-overs squads after the tour of the West Indies in mid-2017, there was a question mark over the Chennai spinner going into the 2018 player auction.

The KXIP bosses showed faith by buying him and naming him skipper of the team still chasing its first IPL title and Ashwin made a good first impression when he led the team to an easy victory over Delhi Daredevils in their opening game in Mohali.

However, he will face his first big test on Friday when he leads KXIP against Royal Challengers Bangalore, at the den of his India skipper, Virat Kohli.

‘CALCULATED, THINKING’

David Miller, Kings XI’s explosive South Africa batsman, praised the only bowling skipper in this IPL for how he has encouraged players to express themselves.

“From what I have gathered, he is very calculated. He thinks about the game very well. Every decision he makes, there is a reason why he does that,” Miller said at the media conference on Friday.

“So far it is pretty relaxed; he is pretty low key, letting guys do what they need to do. That is the most important thing. So far it has been good, and we have an exciting five weeks ahead. He knows a lot about the game and thinks a lot about the game.”

Miller acknowledged it was early days and there would be challenges for Ashwin as the tournament progressed. He was asked if it made a difference from having a fast-bowling skipper or a batting captain – Miller himself was in the reckoning for the job.

“I’m not sure, you have to wait and see. It has only been one game. I don’t know if it makes so much of a difference if it is a fast bowler or a spin bowler, but so far he has been pretty good.

“Twenty20 is obviously quick and fast. The longer format is a lot more (demanding), the longer spells that you bowl, the more you get tired.”

GAYLE QUESTION

Ashwin will have to find his right playing eleven though. There is lot of interest over whether Chris Gayle, the RCB batting enforcer until last season, would play.

Although Aaron Finch expected to come in, Miller, who smashed a 38-ball 101 in IPL 2013 for KXIP, didn’t see any change in his role as a finisher.

“Not at all, in fact we have been told pretty early on to trust our games, be exciting. We can be pretty free, and whatever situations that come your way, take them. The last game (chasing against Delhi Daredevils) we didn’t need to be explosive, hit boundaries. We were ahead of the game and we judged it well. Each game (play to) what situation we find ourselves in; try and be flexible in that.”