Ashwin played in all five matches of the home series against New Zealand in November–December 2010. India completed a 5–0 whitewash and Ashwin ended up as the leading wicket-taker of the series with 11 wickets at an average of 21. 90. At the conclusion of the series, Ashwin earned the praise of captain Gautam Gambhir, who called him "the find" of the series and hailed his bowling during the powerplay overs. Despite this success, Ashwin failed to make it to the playing eleven in any of the five ODIs on the South African tour, with the inclusion of lead spinner Harbhajan Singh in the team. However, Ashwin did manage to find a place in the 15-member World Cup squad that was announced during the series, with Harbhajan and Piyush Chawla being the other two specialist spinners in the squad. He played only two matches in the World Cup and made his World Cup debut in March 2011 against the West Indies with bowling figures of 2/41 in 10 overs. He bowled his full quota in the quarterfinal against Australia at Ahmedabad and picked 2/52. India went on to win the tournament, but Ashwin did not feature in either the semi-final or the final.