Kings XI Punjab captain R Ashwin
File photo of KXIP and CSK skipper R Ashwin and MS Dhoni.IANS
  • KXIP have won six of their nine matches so far in IPL 2018.
  • Ashwin has been earning a lot of praise in his captaincy debut.
  • The Punjab-based franchise made light of Rajasthan Royals at home Sunday.

Kings XI Punjab's big-hitting batsman Aaron Finch has lauded Ravichandran Ashwin's captaincy in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018, likening the off-spinner's calm and collective approach to that of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper MS Dhoni.

The Australian batsman opined that Ashwin must have developed the ability to remain calm during his time under Dhoni at CSK. Notably, the 31-year-old off-spinner had been an integral member of the Chennai-based franchise.

However, he was not retained by Stephen Fleming's men for the ongoing season. KXIP snapped up the top-ranked Test bowler for Rs 7.6 crore during January's auction.

Ashwin was tasked with the responsibility of leading an IPL side for the first time in his career ahead of the ongoing season. Mentor Virender Sehwag had revealed he wanted a bowling captain for KXIP and he could look no further than the 31-year-old.

It's safe to say that Ashwin has repaid the trust the KXIP management showed in him as KXIP are sitting pretty on the third spot with 12 points from nine games. They also have a game in hand over Sunrisers Hyderabad and CSK, who are on the first and second spots, respectively, on the points table.

"I think Ashwin has been outstanding. He is very calm and that comes with playing under MS Dhoni. MSD is a cool guy and Ashwin has also been calm and made some great decisions," Finch was quoted as saying by Cricketnext.

The Australian batsman added: "While he hasn't had a lot of experience of leading the side in the past, he has been a successful cricketer and has brought that to the table as a leader. He brings the group together and speaks to individuals before the game.

"Along with chief coach Brad Hodge, Ashwin has left no stone unturned when it comes to preparations for a game."

Ashwin not reluctant to make tough decisions

As Finch says, Ashwin has operated smartly when it comes to decision-making in the ongoing season.

Despite dropping Chris Gayle for the first two matches, Ashwin has backed the big-hitting West Indies opener who had gone unsold twice in the auction before he was picked up KXIP at his base price.

The captain's faith has worked wonders as Gayle has been setting the season on fire with his explosive approach at the top of the order.

Ashwin, the only bowling captain in the ongoing season, has also shown a lot of faith in his bowlers. Afghanistan teenager Mujeeb Ur Rahman has shone in the ongoing season after being wonderfully handled by the skipper.

On the other hand, Ashwin has not shied away from taking tough decisions, which includes dropping the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Finch from the playing XI.

KXIP on track to reach playoffs

KXIP, who are a couple of wins away from sealing a playoff spot, will take on strugglers Rajasthan Royals, whom they beat Sunday, at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on May 8.

It seemed Ashwin's men were losing a bit of momentum after a solid start to the season when they had lost back-to-back matches last week. However, the Punjab-based franchise came back strong with an all-round performance against the Royals in Indore.