We’ve Become Very Enthu Fans of R Ashwin’s Wife Prithi Narayanan


We’ve Become Very Enthu Fans of R Ashwin’s Wife Prithi Narayanan

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Today is Day 2 of the South Indian harvest holiday of Pongal, one of the most important celebrations of the year especially for Tamils. A rice pudding called pongal is traditionally prepared, and although it can be savoury, the sweet version is a favourite festive treat for the more discerning foodies. Just ask cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin’s wife  Prithi Narayanan, who is currently stuck in a quarantine bio-bubble in Brisbane for the India-Australia Test series, bemoaning the tragic lack of chakkara pongal and vadai in her life on Twitter.

Such is Prithi’s plight that it prompted users to recount the tale of Harsha Bhogle’s trip to Australia in the ’90s, where he mentioned on a TV programme that he was having a hard time finding vegetarian food. Bhogle was inundated with packets of homemade dal-sabzi sent to him by fond NRIs, and Prithi has implored Indian locals in Brisbane to perform the same kindness. It’s unlikely that anyone will be allowed to breach the social bubble that has been carefully drawn around the Indian team and their families for this Test series, but no doubt many would want to answer the heartfelt appeals of Prithi, Queen of the Cricket WAGs.

Sure, all eyes have always been on the uber cool Anushka Sharma, and the spunky Sakshi, wives of Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni. But apart from captains, the partners of our Men in Blue are rarely in the limelight — at least until Prithi’s candid and hilarious social media accounts came along. Prithi live-tweets while watching matches and shares details from her day-to-day of raising two daughters – whom she jokingly says she’d be “happy to social distance from” – while following her husband’s game closely.

In her own words, Prithi is “here to keep things light and be a very enthu cricket fan”, providing us a fun view from the stands and mildly embarrassing Ravichandran Ashwin stories: Her pinned tweet recalls their wedding night, where her family fruitlessly encouraged her to let the bowler sleep as he had a match the following day; and a post commemorating their ninth anniversary shows her pretending to strangle him in a quarantined hotel room.

In her own words, Prithi is “here to keep things light and be a very enthu cricket fan”.

Like her husband, Prithi Narayan is a formidable all-rounder. Apart from her wry sense of humour, it’s her honesty that makes her such a favourite, like when she recently tweeted about Ashwin’s back injury before the third Test in Sydney. We all were privy to Prithi’s frantic tweets, exhorting her husband to keep his cool amid Tim Paine’s non-stop, tasteless sledging. In fact, her tweet where she compared the Aussie captain to their daughter, basically calling him a cry baby, is already in contention for the “Best Burn of 2021”.

After winning the internet with her hilarious jabs, Prithi went on to write about the historic Day 5 of the Sydney Test in The Indian Express, where both an injured Ashwin and Hanuma Vihara braved India to a draw. Prithi opened up about how she watched the dramatic day unfold with her two daughters holed up in a hotel room, giving them “unrestricted screen time”. She intimately described the experience of seeing her partner fight through the pain, giving us a sneak peek into the psychological zone of a sports warrior and more. Her honest account not only tells us about the struggles of players but also about the sacrifices their families make. “Out there, he is taking knocks on the chest and shoulders from bouncers. I winced when one hit him on the ribs. Another knocked his hands and the physio ran out. I winced again… I know he is more than capable of handling it. But because of the back pain, I was worried that these blows could make the situation worse,” she wrote.

Prithi’s article was an eye-opener for sports fans like never before. It’s something every cricket fan should go back to every time they think of trolling a player or his family. When we see players out on the pitch, and shout at them from our living rooms for dropped catches and mistimed shots, we don’t know what they go through to be standing there and giving it their all. Thanks to Prithi, not only do we have some inkling of what it takes to be a real sport, but also how much support goes behind the success of one person, and how many people are really on the team.

Maybe we should reserve a Test cap for Prithi Narayanan, the woman who makes our most beloved sport accessible, intimate, and never too serious. The best hype girl Team India could ask for.