Pressure gets to me easily, have to be calm during WC: Ashwin

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Tapan Mohanta

Kolkata, Jan 31 (PTI) As he gears up to live the dream ofbeing in a World Cup squad, young Indian off-spinner R Ashwinsays he is trying all he can to be of more utility byimproving his batting and, more importantly, learning tohandle pressure which "gets easily" to him.

"I''m trying my best to be an asset to the side. I''mworking hard on my batting and want to be a utility man forthe side so that I can be a real asset to the side. Pressuregets to me easily. I am working hard to be calm in apressure-filled situation," Ashwin told PTI in an interview.

The 24-year-old player''s rise from obscurity to rankamong the top spinners in two years time is no fluke butAshwin says he is not quite sure whether he would actually geta chance to play in the World Cup starting February 19.

"I''m not overly-excited or thinking of figuring in theplaying XI in the World Cup. I don''t know if I have a chanceto make the playing XI. I will do whatever is there in myhands. That is a part and parcel of every game. It really doesnot get to me. I''m focussed in whatever I''m doing," Ashwinsaid.

Asked how he was gearing up for the World Cup personally,Ashwin said, "I have been working hard and working smartly forpast five-six months. When I bowl, I put myself in thebatsman''s shoes, I keep thinking a lot.

"You really can''t work hard on your skill but what youcan do is to out-think the batsman on the field. You have toexecute your plans well," Ashwin said.

On the three-pronged spin attack, Ashwin said, "Bhajjiwill lead the attack well. He has really been bowling well...

he''s always been inspirational and a guiding force. Also, Ihave the confidence and trust of my skipper (Mahendra SinghDhoni) that helps in giving freedom as a bowler."

With the hype rising about India''s prospects in thebiggest cricketing extravaganza, Ashwin said: "Already therehave been talks that this is the strongest Indian side ever.

We are really good as a unit and well-suited to the domesticcondition." More PTI TAP PM MRM

"Obviously I want the team to win the Cup. The atmosphere in the team is just perfect, honestly speaking we stand a verygood chance. We definitely have all the ammunition to make itto the last stage. But it''s just one game at a time afterall," Ashwin said.

"Every team is good at this level. You cannotunderestimate any team. Moreover aided by technology all the10 Test playing nations are well-equipped to tackle anyopposition."

Ashwin felt the recent tour to South Africa has also beengood preparation for the mega-event.

"It''s one of the best South Africa tours, this team hasthe tenacity. We put them under tremendous pressure and foughttill the end. That''s really a good sign... This team has theright vibes, helping each other."

Alongside India, Ashwin picked England, Sri Lanka,Pakistan and defending champions Australia to go all the way.

"England are doing very well at the moment, in thesesub-continental condition everybody knows that Sri Lanka canbe a big threat, while Pakistan can be real dynamite. At thesame time, we cannot just rule out World Cup championsAustralia," he said.

At the same time, he said Bangladesh have it in them toupset the heavyweights.

"In home conditions, Bangladesh can be a real threat. Iwill be surprised if they don''t stun some big names in thecricketing world in the course of the tournament."

The World Cup is likely to be Gary Kirsten''s swansongassignment as India coach and Ashwin said the South African,under whom the team did exceptionally well, would be missed.

"Of course Gary Kirsten had a major role having been withthe side for the last few years. He has been amazing.

Hopefully somebody gets into his head and makes him to stayback (with us)," he quipped.

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