Murugan Ashwin is an intelligent man. Quite literally. The Kings XI Punjab leg-spinner was an academically adept student in his school days, reported to have scored in excess of 90 per cent in both his 10th as well as 12th grade.

So with an academic track record like that, for the most part of his formative years cricket remained more of a hobby as Murugan focused equally on his education. That was until he had to give his GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) tests for further studies.

"In the third year of college, I had enrolled for GRE exams at that time; and that's when I decided that an academic career was not for me. I'd be better off as a cricketer,” he says.

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But the Tamil Nadu bowler acknowledged that the disdain towards GRE exams wasn't the reason that prompted his decision to be a full-time cricketer but it was more to do with weighing the options he had at the time.

"I used to feature in various age categories at the state level; and when I was in the third year of college I did really well in a few first division league game which was held in Chennai," he says. "I could therefore see myself playing in the Ranji Trophy and moving up the ladder. That was one thing that prompted me to take up cricket."

The Chennai-born Murugan admits that he never worked exceptionally hard on his studies and wasn't too worried about his cricket; as both the disciplines came to him naturally.

"I was actually good in academics," he says. "My basics were good and I could grasp things easily. I never attended lot of lectures and after playing cricket I used to go to a friend's place to study what had what I had missed.

"I had eight hours to balance both, but I had genuine interest in them so I could balance things well," he affirms.

He may have left the books behind but a calculated decision about his life’s path has allowed Murugan flourish on the cricket field.