February 19, 2017 - 3:02pm
The No.1 Test bowler brushes off suggestions he'd begun mind games with Australia's captain during last year's IPL
The Indian Premier League is purported to have brought cricketers from countries around the world closer than they ever have been - on and off the pitch.
But while some competitors turned IPL teammates are willing to share tactical insights, it seems India's most potent bowler Ravichandran Ashwin is not among them.
Ashwin shared a dressing room with Australia's Test squad members Steve Smith, Mitch Marsh and Peter Handscomb during last year's Twenty20 competition.
If Smith was hoping to glean any insider information about the offspinner, recently donned the "Bradman of bowling" by Steve Waugh, he was out of luck.
Battles in the nets between Pune teammates Ashwin and Smith, ranked first on the International Cricket Council's Test bowling and batting charts respectively, didn't provide the battle the Australia skipper might have hoped for.
Ashwin even went so far as to bowl legspin to Smith.
The two stars will play key roles in the four-Test series that starts in Pune on Thursday, with Ashwin insisting his hijinks last year weren't a ploy to keep the gifted batsman in the dark.
"Not really. That was not the intent," Ashwin, who sent down a rare leggie during India's recent one-off Test against Bangladesh, told The New India Express.
"I'm definitely more phased out in the way I practice during the IPL. Bowling leg spin had to do with skill development.
"How much ever you study or practice against someone (doesn't matter compared to how you play), it boils down to the fact that you have to come out to the middle and replicate everything.
"I don't want to read much into it."
Smith said during last year's IPL campaign that Ashwin gave little away during their time with the MS Dhoni-captained franchise.
"It's a little different facing (Ashwin) in the nets," Smith told Cricbuzz in April.
"He bowled a lot of leg-spinners. Maybe, he was trying to not give too much away with his off-spinners.
"He is obviously a quality bowler and has done well for a long period of time."
Pressed on the matter of sharing tactical hints on his Australia teammates for an advantage in the IPL, Smith suggested at the time he'd have no qualms about divulging information.
"I don't think it is a very sensitive area at all," he continued.
"There is so much footage about everyone these days (that) sharing a few things can't really hurt.
"Whichever team I am playing for, I want to do well, so if they want to ask about some Australian players, I will share as many things about their weaknesses as possible."
Ashwin grabbed his 250th wicket during the recent Test between India and Bangladesh. In doing so in his 45th Test, Ashwin eclipised Dennis Lillee's record. Australian icon Lillee brought up the milestone in 48 Tests.
The 30-year-old, India's leading wicket-taker in their recent 4-0 thumping of England despite nursing a groin injury, also outlined his plans for David Warner.
"Warner is a fine player. If you don't get him early, he will hurt you. I'll be very very pro-active about it, and try to unsettle him as early as possible," Ashwin said.
"Obviously, there will be a dismissal pattern, since certain batsmen get out in the same fashion. That is something I can definitely target.
"Most of their batsmen I know well, but some of them are new. We will have to watch a few videos and prepare as usual."