Ravichandran Ashwin’s wife Prithi Narayan has narrated her emotional roller coaster she was going through during the final session of the Sydney Test.
She witnessed her husband go through the grind despite a back injury that prevented him from even sitting comfortably. But with tempers flaring at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), Prithi was more worried about Ravichandran Ashwin’s reactions to the sledges from Australian captain Tim Paine.
Prithi chose not to go to the SCG for the final day and was instead glued to the television in her hotel room. Opening up on how she coped with the tense match situation from her Sydney hotel room, Prithi wrote:
“He was helping his partner. When one can do that in that situation, thinking beyond oneself, it means they were in control of their emotions. I heard him tell Hanuma (Vihari) ‘Pathu Pathu ball, adulaaam’ (we will play 10 balls each). It felt good to hear his voice. The same stump microphone would later bring up other voices, which weren’t that good!"
Prithi was especially worried when Ravichandran Ashwin decided to respond in kind to Tim Paine's verbal barbs, something he hadn't done till then.
“When Tim Paine started talking, my worry wasn’t what he was saying but that Ashwin was talking back. Something he hadn’t done until then. 'Was he losing focus, or is the back pain irritating him that he is reacting? What if something happens now? Don’t do it, Ash. Don’t talk back,’ I thought. I tweeted something on those lines too. That emotion was out of my body.”
Prithi sensed the change in Ravichandran Ashwin’s tone during the verbal duel. She felt perhaps the pain of his back injury was starting to impact his mood.
Ravichandran Ashwin replied to Tim Paine about his “See you in Brisbane” jibe by telling him that he would send the wicketkeeper-batsman to retirement in his tour of India before regaining his focus. That got Prithi to relax momentarily before the aggressive batter in Ashwin got her to worry again.
She further wrote:
“He seemed to get back in control. He too was fighting it out. Both (Ashwin and Vihari) were talking in Tamil, more chats started to come through. “I smiled as I thought I heard Ash say 'Aadu mama, aadu mama! (Play on man, Play on!)".
Prithi was worried again when Ravichandran Ashwin started playing a few shots.
"Suddenly he started to play a few shots in the end. 'Why Ash, why? What’s happening?’ Perhaps, he was relaxing. I certainly wasn’t. The things that go through in the head, I tell you.”
Prithi found solace in Twitter when Ravichandran Ashwin was trying to salvage a draw
Prithi even rejected inquisitive phone calls from her mother and shared her anxieties on Twitter to destress.
“The phone rang. It was my mother. 'Amma, this is a once-in-a-hundred-years type of match going on, I can’t speak to you now', and I put the phone down. So, I guess I knew I was watching history. The enormity of the situation was unmissable. In these times, watching alone in a hotel room, Twitter is my comfort move."
Prithi revealed that she does not speak with anyone while she is tense; saying in this regard:
“I don’t even speak to friends or family if it gets tense. Somehow, Twitter is easier and a good outlet for my emotions, as I don’t have to engage. It’s my choice. I know when it’s best to ignore trolls."
Tim Paine later apologised for crossing the line and calling Ravichandran Ashwin a “d***head”.
Ravichandran Ashwin, on his part, kept his cool. He battled a terrible pain due to a sore back and thwarted Australia, scoring an unbeaten 39 off 128 balls to secure a famous draw for India.