R Ashwin will lead Kings XI Punjab in the 11th edition of the IPL, the first time he leads a team in the T20 format. © BCCI

R Ashwin will lead Kings XI Punjab in the 11th edition of the IPL, the first time he leads a team in the T20 format. © BCCI

R Ashwin, recently named the captain of Kings XI Punjab for the 2018 Indian Premier League, said he wasn’t looking at using the glitzy Twenty20 tournament as a platform to make his way back to the Indian limited-overs sides.

Speaking at an event in New Delhi on Tuesday (March 13), during which Punjab launched their jersey for the season, Ashwin said his focus was entirely on scripting a successful campaign for Punjab.

“For me, it is all about incorporating whatever I have learnt over the years,” he said. “I have played under lot of captains including Viru paaji (Virender Sehwag, Punjab’s mentor). My focus is on being strategically ahead of other captains (in the competition).

“Both Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) and Viru paaji have been my captains at different stages of my career. I played under Yuvi paaji in my first Challenger Trophy and he has played a big role in whoever I am today. Learning from experiences and taking advice is something I am never be averse to.”

In terms of experience, Ashwin has led Tamil Nadu in the domestic circuit, including a Vijay Hazare Trophy win in 2009. This will however be the first time he leads a team in the shortest format.

“You associate captaincy with pressure and power but for me leadership comes with a lot of responsibility,” he pointed out. “If you can use it as fulcrum that helps your team, I think we will be in good stead.”

One of the things Ashwin and the Punjab think-tank will have to sort out is the issue of not having a specialist wicketkeeper in their ranks. Till last year, they had Wriddhiman Saha playing that role for them, but this year, it will probably be up to KL Rahul to take up the responsibilities behind the stumps.

“Lots of teams have weaknesses and every team will try and overcome that,” said Ashwin. “Most people see this (lack of specialist wicketkeeper) as a weakness for KXIP. On an average, in T20 games, every keeper gathers only six balls. So if our keeper can take those six balls, we will be fine.”

Punjab will start their campaign with a match against Delhi Daredevils at Feroz Shah Kotla on April 8.