IPL 2019: Ashwin excited to be back home, says Mayank Agarwal

Mayank Agarwal said that R. Ashwin is 'happy' to be back home and that the Punjab skipper is looking forward to the challenge.

R. Ashwin and coach Mike Hesson ahead of KXIP's match against CSK in Chennai.   -  R. Ragu

Kings XI Punjab middle-order batsman Mayank Agarwal said that R. Ashwin is 'happy' to be back home and that the Punjab skipper is looking forward to the challenge.

Punjab takes on Chennai Super Kings at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday and Ashwin for the first time will be playing at the Chepauk as an opponent.

"He is excited, it's his home and he knows the wicket in and out. So he is looking forward for the challenge," Mayank said in a media interaction.

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Speaking about Ashwin's captaincy, he said, "He is a thinking cricketer and he brings that into the team. A lot of thought and planning goes and he is a very thoughtful person. 

"He is giving responsibilities to people and defines the role of each front. He is very upfront and he is straightforward."

Ruthless CSK

Playing Super Kings at home has been challenging and Mayank admitted that CSK is 'ruthless' in its approach.

"They are a quality side, know their ground really well and are an experienced side. They are ruthless when it comes to Chepauk or elsewhere. It's important for us to go out there, stick to our strengths and go and compete. We can take a lot of heart from the last game and keep believing. Playing good cricket is important and from there the results will take care of itself," he said.

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Punjab is coming into this game on the back of two straight wins and Mayank said that winning close games boosts the morale of the team.

"I think it helps as winning close matches gives you the confidence and boosts the morale of the team. In IPL you are going to play a lot of close games and if you win more often then it's good," he said.

Gayle fit for selection

Destructive batsman Chris Gayle didn't feature in the last game but Mayank informed that the West Indian is fully fit and is available for selection.

"I can't tell whether he is going to play tomorrow or not but yes he is fully fit."

The first game of the IPL saw Chennai bowl out Royal Challengers Bangalore for 70 on a rank turner. Punjab has three spinners in Ashwin, Murugan Ashwin and Varun Chakravarthy to counter the opposition.

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When asked if Punjab would be playing all three Tamil Nadu spinners with Ashwin being an automatic starter, he said, "I am not the person to go and see the track and I will leave that to the coach and captain."

Speaking on the balance of the side, Mayank said, "See I think we are playing very good cricket and the balance of the side is good. We have got all-rounders and guys have been coming in and performing and claiming their spots. They are owning up the responsibilities and playing good cricket."