At the 2019 VIVO Indian Premier League auctions, the name of a certain Murugan Ashwin was announced in the wee hours of the day; and the Kings XI Punjab team management were quick to raise their paddle to sign the leg spinner. Surprisingly, no other franchise decided to make a bid for the 28-year-old.
Come the 2019 season, the spinner repaid his price in gold, turning in quality performances week in and week out. Murugan Ashwin was KXIP’s second most economical bowler this season, with skipper Ravichandran Ashwin narrowly outperforming him in that department. He was used to curtail the opposition’s scoring rate post the powerplay overs and almost always did his job to perfection, with the added bonus of picking up crucial wickets along the way.
Take for instance his debut game for Kings XI against champions Mumbai Indians in Mohali. The visitors were cruising at 62/1 after the powerplay overs when Murugan Ashwin was brought into the attack. He picked up Suryakumar Yadav’s wicket off just his second delivery while conceding just two runs that over. Then off his final over, he got the wicket of veteran southpaw Yuvraj Singh just when Mumbai Indians were threatening to score big in the final overs.
His wickets helped arrest the Mumbai scoring rate and ultimately ended up being the difference as the Shers chased down their target of 177 in the 19th over. If the bowlers had conceded 10-15 extra runs, the story of the chase could have been very different.
Having played 10 matches this season for the Shers, Ashwin conceded in excess of 30 runs in just three games. He also picked up at least one wicket in five of those games with batsman of the calibre of Yuvraj Singh, Ashton Turner and Wriddhiman Saha.
Apart from his economical bowling, he built a great rapport with skipper Ravichandran Ashwin, with the duo ensuring that the Shers always dominated in the middle overs of the games.
Murugan Ashwin also proved to be a handy fielder, both in the 30-yard circle as well as in the deep. His diving stops inside the circle saved the side at least a couple of boundaries during the course of the season. He also took a few spectacular catches in the deep as well, namely of Krunal Pandya and Virat Kohli.
While the Shers’ key players like KL Rahul, Chris Gayle and Ravichandran Ashwin were often on the mark this year with a constant flurry of quality performances, the leg spinner proved to be a real pandoras box for the opposition. In a very unassuming fashion, Murugan Ashwin kept racking up the performances that outfoxed the batsmen. For his consistent deliverance, the leggie from Tamil Nadu has been the Shers’ unsung hero for the 2019 VIVO IPL.