Sambalpur:It took some time to sink the feeling of getting a Team India berth and Tamil Nadu off-spinning allrounder Ravichandran Ashwin said it's a dream come true for him.
Ashwin comes in place of regular off-spinner Harbhajan Singh who has been rested for India's two-match T20 series against Sri Lanka.
The Tamil Nadu cricketer, who is here for Ranji Trophy Super League against Orissa, said he would be really happy even if he could achieve half of Bhajji.
"Bhajji is a great off-spinner having won so many matches for India. I don't see myself as his replacement but even if I can achieve half of what he has achieved, I will be really proud," Ashwin told PTI.
The 23-year-old said he was knocking the doors of national team for close to two-three years.
"I had a very good Challengers last season (in Cuttack) where I was the top-wicket taker. I was very close to selection then.
"This season too, I had a good Challengers and then I had a century and a half-century (against Himachal Pradesh) in the Ranji Trophy and was among wickets. I knew that I might get a chance in any of the limited overs format. It's the biggest moment in my life," Ashwin said.
Ashwin said he was a batsman during his school days but on his coach's insistence he turned an off-spinner.
"I am thankful to my school coach, Vijay Kumar, who made me an off-spinner. I was more of a batsman but on his insistence, I turned off-spinner," he said.
Ashwin, who idolises Anil Kumble and Mark Waugh, said his coach WV Raman had a major role in shaping his career.
The youngster hoped that he would get a chance and try to cement his place in the side.
"This season, I have been really tidy with my bowling and I think it will be just great if I could score at 120 strike rate. I just hope that I get a chance now," Ashwin, who plays for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, said.
Ashwin, who is a software engineer, joins the likes of Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath with the engineering qualification.
"I guess, it's mandatory for cricketers from South to have high qualification," he joked and added, "To be honest, I am better off with cricket. I was not dumb as a student, nor was I brilliant."
The tall off-spinner said he has 'carrom ball' --patented by Lankan Ajantha Mendis -- to his armoury. "It became really famous during the Challengers."