Ravichandran Ashwin was involved in one of crickets most impassioned Test matches for the men in blue – the infamous draw against West Indies during the 2011 home series. The match came to an end with the scores level for only the second time in the history when Ashwin couldn’t score the two runs needed to win off the last ball bowled.
Needing 243 to win, Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli knocked half-centuries, but a match that seemed like ending in a tie came to life when West Indies brushed off India’s middle order without taking much damage.
The Tamil Nadu cricketer, who made his Test debut earlier in the series, knocked a hundred and a hald-century. With two wickets in hand, Ashwin and Varun Arron took a single but the spinner was run-out trying to seal the win for India. “In the final innings, we looked good to chase, but all of a sudden, we had a collapse,” Ashwin told.
“I found myself batting with the tail. It was very interesting, because I had a hundred in the first innings. Second innings, I was again batting well. I was 20-odd. I was left with I think Varun Aaron at the other end, and I think it might have been two balls, two runs to get... we had two wickets in hand.”
The off-spinner ended up being named the Man of the Match and series but couldn’t could be the man of the moment. Ashwin was reluctant before going for the second run and it was enough foe Denesh Ramdin and wicketkeeper Charlton Baugh to coordinate the run-out that avoided a whitewash for the Caribbean side.
“I didn’t want to risk going for a big shot, and then, the next batsman coming in and getting out – we could lose the Test match, from being in a position of strength, it was not even 50-50,” he said.
“So I blocked that ball from Fidel Edwards, because it was swinging nicely and the chances of a No.11 getting out was pretty high. It was the calculation I’d put in my head; it was all coming from how much first-class cricket I had played, and whatever I believed was the right decision to make.”
It may have been the most fitting decision Ashwin could make at that time, however, the off-spinner revealed that after the game, MS Dhoni came up to him suggesting what he could have done differently.
“I still believe it was the right decision to make. When I hit the ball to long on, it really went quick and straight to the fielder, so the chance to run for two was not there. It was quite an interesting game,” he said.
“After the game, MS Dhoni came to me and said, ‘You could have taken a chance in the previous ball. Probably taken a single, and let Varun Aaron slog one off the last ball’. So yeah, that’s hindsight.”