Somebody asked the director of ITW Blitz, the company that will be looking into the endorsements of Ravichandran Ashwin, why should any brand be interested in the offspinner? Ashwin took the mike and gave the answer: “We are not here to discuss why brands want to sign us, we are here for responsible endorsing, and we will decide whom we want to endorse.” Cocky? Well, you may think so, but it’s backed by serious substance. 72 wickets in 12 Tests and two centuries in 2016 is giving the world’s best cricketer all the confidence that he has at the moment. “Yes, this is one of the best phases of my bowling career,” Ashwin says, only to add: “But I wouldn’t say this is the best. I think the best times could be lying ahead.” Everything he has touched this year has turned into gold. But he knows that every time he takes the field from now on, the world will ask him to replicate those superhuman figures that he churned out right through 2016. “Expectations are bound to mount every time you do well. After that every time you don’t, people’s expectations are let down and if the team doesn’t do well, it gets magnified that much more,” Ashwin said. But according to him, “that’s the challenge”. “I’m not playing for high rewards, I am playing because I am so much in love with the game…If you are going to challenge me, I’m just going to try and beat it.