R Ashwin is a tall offspinner who took the soduku ball, a finger-flicked tennis-ball legbreak, from the streets of Chennai and used it effectively in international cricket on a bigger, harder cricket ball. His inspiration was Ajantha Mendis’ carrom ball. Even before Mendis had played for Sri Lanka and bamboozled India’s heavyweight Test line-up in one series, this 21-year-old saw him in a game in Chennai and went home convinced it could be done with a cricket ball too. In his first season of first-class cricket back then, Ashwin put his long fingers to tireless work on that variation. Soon after Mendis had became a brief phenomenon, Ashwin unleashed it in Twenty20 cricket.
That carrom ball, an arm ball just as good, his control over his offbreaks, and a sharp brain made Ashwin a quintessential limited-overs spinner. For his IPL franchise, he opened the bowling, bowled at death, came on when wickets were required, and was the Man of the Series in the 2010 Champions League played in South Africa. In fact, Ashwin is one of the rare players who actually came up through the IPL and was good enough to hold his own in bigger forms of cricket
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