New Delhi: India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has opened up on his move from Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) to Delhi Capitals (DC) in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Ashwin, on Wednesday (May 20), said the reason behind him joining DC was to “strengthen the bowling” and make the team “the front-runners for the IPL title.” Last year, Ashwin was traded to DC by KXIP.

Also read: Saliva ban will not help bowlers, says Harbhajan Singh

Speaking on the franchise’s official Instagram handle during a live session, the 33-year-old said, “I was coming to a franchise which had qualified for the playoffs last season, and had some very exciting players including Rishabh (Pant) and Prithvi (Shaw). I thought I could use my experience for the franchise and improve the team further. If I could help in strengthening the bowling, we could be the front runners for the title, I came with that intention.”

Also read: Indian cricketers lash out at Shahid Afridi

Speaking on the changes in cricket once the sport resumes, Ashwin said, “It may take time to get used to certain things. The entire lockdown and its experience is a way of our world, and nature telling us to pause, and take a back-step. Over the years, we’ve inflicted enough damage on this world, and it’s time to give the earth and nature its dignity back.”

“The same applies to cricket. In the 1970s-80s, wicket celebrations meant fielders standing in their respective positions and clapping. Things like high-fives and fist pumps are more recent, so when we all step out to play again, it may take time to get used to certain things, but we’ll need to adapt. For me as a bowler, putting saliva on the ball comes naturally, and it will take practice to avoid that,” he added.

Ashwin, whose bowling repertoire includes the famous carrom ball, also spoke about the need for innovation in modern day cricket.

“For me as a cricketer, updating and innovating myself is what keeps me going,” he said. “Modern day cricket is more challenging given the amount of technology that’s available, allowing a player’s game to be dissected very easily. So any innovation, however small that is, can help you up your game. I like to keep trying out different things.”

Speaking on the often ignored issue of mental health in sport, Ashwin said, “During the span of your career, you spend so many years travelling and living in hotels, you start losing relationships on the way. And this is something people don’t understand. I think to avoid that, it is really important to have someone inside the team with whom you can talk about anything – I believe that is very healthy and critical.”

With India recording the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, Ashwin was seen signing off with an appeal to the people of the country. “I think it is a crucial phase for all of us, we are seeing a jump in the number of cases, therefore I would request everyone to kindly stay at home with their loved ones, and take all the necessary precautions to maintain social distancing until we have a vaccine,” signed off Ashwin.

This year’s IPL has been suspended indefinitely by the BCCI due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.