Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin has 14 wickets in 12 matches of the 2019 Indian Premier League so far and is eighth on the list of top wicket-takers. Four other spinners are ahead of him in the list – Imran Tahir, Shreyas Gopal, Yuzvendra Chahal and Rashid Khan.

Ashwin doesn’t want to compare his performances with other spinner, but believes he right up the order when it comes to the T20 tournament.

“Once I have become an expert and I am paid for it, I would do that job [assess other spinners]. But right now, I would like to think that I am right up there and I have been for a long time now. It’s my 11th season of the IPL, so I would like to think I have done a fairly good job,” Ashwin told Hindustan Times in an interview.

“I have never shied away from competing with anyone. I am right on top of the pile. But look, there are going to be people who will be better than you and you will be overtaken at some stage,” he added.

The 32-year-old Ashwin has not been in contention for India in limited overs cricket. He last played ODI cricket in 2017 and won’t be part of the upcoming World Cup either. He accepted that a spinner needs to keep reinventing in today’s game.

“I like to do new things, learn new things and am not afraid of trying different things because T20 is one format where the bowlers need to contend with the fact that they will get hit. Getting hit is a part and parcel of the game but you should be a fierce competitor, which I am, and I really pride myself in that,” he said.

Talking about his captaincy stint, the former Chennai Super Kings and Rising Pune Supergiant player said that he was focused on building a good team culture.

“Trying what this franchise stands for. That’s exactly what I have been trying to do and I have been successful in a lot of ways. We are no pushovers anymore and we have really played some exciting cricket... Mayank Agarwal has gone on to play for India, KL Rahul has also played top cricket. So, we have fair amount of firepower on display.” he said.

Punjab’s best hope is to win both their matches while improving their NRR and emerge favourably in a 14-point tiebreaker. For starters, the match against KKR is a virtual knock-out for both teams and the Chris Gayle vs Andre Russell showdown has the makings of a classic.

They have one slender advantage: of playing the penultimate match of the league phase and knowing close to what the scenario to qualify is if there is a tiebreak scenario. Like the 2018 edition, they have to face the mighty CSK in their final match, though.

Read the full interview here