Tamil Nadu off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has said he will "feel lovely" when he dons the Kings XI Punjab colors and plays against Chennai Super Kings at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in the upcoming 11th season of Indian Premier League (IPL).
Ashwin had to end his 10-year-long association with CSK as he was not retained by the Chennai-based franchise ahead of the IPL auction. At the two-day event, the MS Dhoni-led team was not able to buy the off-spinner back as he was picked up by KXIP for a whopping sum of Rs 7.6 crore.
CSK were part of the bidding war for Ashwin, whose base price was set at Rs 2 crore. However, the Men in Yellow pulled out of the race as the price kept increasing with every bid.
Ashwin conceded he was "a tad disappointed" when CSK were not able to retain his services for IPL 2018. Nonetheless, the 31-year-old seems excited about showcasing his skills as a KXIP player when his team takes on CSK in front his home crowd.
Also read: Full list of players sold at auction
"Obviously I was a tad disappointed. I have been here for the past 10 years. Literally, I own that space at Chepauk. The cheer that I got every time I came on to bowl, I will miss that," Ashwin told the Press Trust of India on Monday on the sidelines of Tamil Nadu's Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign in Chennai.
He added: "The auction is very unpredictable and probably if you saw this auction, people were not going all guns blazing. I am a bit disappointed that I will not be turning up for CSK
"It [playing for KXIP in Chennai] will feel lovely. I will again get a chance to showcase my skills in front of my home crowd. That is all that matters to me. It is a ground that has great memories. It has been part of my meteoric rise.
"It gave me a lot of momentum going into my international career. Coming back there and play against CSK, it may probably motivate me more. Let's see how it goes."
Ashwin to lead KXIP?
Ashwin rose to prominence with his match-winning performances in the IPL for CSK. He played only two games in 2009 but a 13-wicket campaign in 2010 earned him an India call-up. Ever since breaking into the senior national team, the off-spinner has been key to quite a few memorable wins, including famous Test series wins at home.
Speculations are rife that Ashwin will be leading KXIP in IPL 2018. The tall off-spinner impressed as captain when he led Tamil Nadu to the semi-final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy in the 2015-16 season.
Notably, KXIP, who are yet to name their captain for the upcoming season, released a list of captaincy probables last month and Ashwin's name featured in it. The likes of local hero Yuvraj Singh, KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Aaron Finch and Axar Patel were also on the list.