By Ravichandran Ashwin

It's a Royal start to the campaign for us! We start off our season in Jaipur against Rajasthan Royals and I always felt that if you can kick off with a win in an away game, it would add some teeth to the campaign. But I expect the competition to be intense.

It's quite an important game in context of the entire IPL because once you get the away win a certain amount of butterflies are rested and a little bit of momentum is gained. But, Rajasthan is quite a tough opponent and the Sawai Mansingh Stadium has been a fortress for them for quite some time now. So it's very important that we get most of the things right in this game and also try and ensure we play some smart cricket. It's pretty much about how we start the tournament and how we gain momentum as it moves on.

Having said that, I'm feeling absolutely relaxed. In the past, I have had some pretty good games bowling in the death in Jaipur. And I'm focussed on my own thing in terms of what I need to be doing out there. Our bowling attack is something that I have already handled in terms of Mujeeb (ur Rahman) and Ankit (Rajpoot) and (Mohammed) Shami is an experienced recruit. It's only about guiding and helping them out on the field. The batting is sorted too. So things have settled well and the coaching staff have been pretty efficient in terms of getting about the batting unit.

The Punjabi anthem

Moreover, the whole squad has been coming together after the camp. We have a few young guys, a few Punjabi boys and some new recruits from other parts of the world. They are all gelling in pretty well, the vibe around them is great and there's more energy in the team. We have even got a team anthem done by some of the individuals in the team; (Nicholas) Pooran, our physio Brett Harrop and Varun (Chakravarthy), have a bit of musical touch to them so they have prepared a bit of song for us. All these things are looking very positive and there's a general upbeat mood in the camp. But it's quite a professional setup so you don't get a lot of time to monkey around.

The whole squad has been impressive so far and that's why we picked them. They obviously have the ability, there's some raw talent out there which will develop with time. It's very important to have their energy but we also have to nurture them and allow them to grow in this environment over a period to produce our own matchwinners. Obviously, the whole idea is that we want to envisage and totally engulf the entire Punjabi emotion in the team. We also want play like a tight unit, play for one another, play for the Punjabis and what we want to stand for.

Game of Thrones: How Ash sees it
The whole thing about Game of Thrones is to be surprised with what they have to throw at you. So, I'm not expecting anything from it. Y'know, you start liking a character, and most of them disappear. I remember Ned Stark was my first favourite character and we all know what happened to him... It's very important for me to just enjoy what's coming my way. I really like the characters - Daenerys (Targaryen), Cersei (Lannister), Jon Snow - and I'm looking forward to see who gets the throne. And the White Walkers have burned down the wall so there's plenty of things in the mix!