Amidst the chaos in the third test between India and England, Ravichandran Ashwin once again showed that he is a modern day great by breaching 400 wickets mark in test cricket.
Almost a decade ago, a 24-year-old Chennai lad bowled his first delivery with the red SG ball at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, then called Feroz Shah Kotla. The young tall lanky off-spinner was selected in the Indian Test squad on the back of two back-to-back Player of the Tournament awards in the Indian T20 extravaganza. His name was Ravichandran Ashwin. In his debut game, Ashwin lit up the stage by taking nine wickets in the match. From the game in Delhi to the recently concluded test match at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Ashwin has gone strength to strength to become the one of the best spinners in India’s cricket history.
Ashwin has added another pedant to his record bag. The off-spinner got the 400 wicket club in the recently concluded Day and Night against the visiting England team. He has gotten to the 400 wicket mark in just 77 Tests, which is the second-fastest in the history of the game. It was not just a one-off moment for India’s spin-master. Just two years after making it into the Tests, he took his 100th Test wicket in his 18th match and Ashwin had his 200th wicket after in his 37th game and by match number 54 he had his 300th scalp.
Young Ashwin became Man of the series in the Australia series of 2013, with 29 wickets, and firmly established himself India’s spin-master to replace fading Harbhajan Singh. Ashwin showcased his bright skills to bowl with the new ball and old ballduring this series. His much-celebrated bag of tricks forced all Indian bowlers to take backseat during this series and helped him to become the frontline bowler to beat the visitors and take India’s revenge of their 4-0 series loss that came when India last played Australia.
In 2016, Ashwin delivered stellar performances to win series-after-series for his nation and earned ICC’s Test Player of the Year. During that year, in the series against New Zealand, Ashwin took three five-wicket hauls, two 10-wicket match hauls, and yet another Man of the Series award. The spin-master exploited the conditions beautifully and bowled long spells to make his case to get into the elite list of modern-day bowlers.
Ravichandran Ashwin 2.0
Ravichandran Ashwin is often called an Indian-track bully. He has been often criticized for poor performances in overseas conditions. Statistically speaking, Ashwin has taken 276 wickets at home. Whenever, his team has traveled to England, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa, Ashwin used to get brawled and as the tour used to progress, he used to warm the bench but the story changed post lockdown.
When the world was shut for about nine months, the 34-year-old off-spinner worked on his fitness. Ashwin himself stated that he lost few pounds that resulted in his success in Australia. Post-IPL, when India toured Downunder, everyone saw Ravichandran Ashwin 2.0 with his spin variations troubling Aussies in their home conditions. Moreover, there was also remarkable improvement in his batting.
Ashwin’s wicket tally was at 363 before the Adelaide Test and since then, the world has again turned on its head for India’s spin-master. Earlier, he was belittled by comparing his overseas’ track-record to his Australia counterpart, Nathan Lyon. The Indian spinner played three games in Australia and contributed heavily, he provided the required pressure to assist the fast-bowlers and took odd yet crucial wickets, as well. Lately, Ravichandran Ashwin 2.0 has been seen more at peace that is helping him just not in bowling but in his all-round brilliance.
Considering Ashwin’s fitness, he still has at least four more years at the top level. With Harbhajan Singh’s record at a hand’s distance, the off-spinner from Chennai is certainly going to end up India’s best-ever off-spinner. Considering his career trajectory and ability to reinvent himself consistently, it will not be a surprise if he ends up becoming India’s highest wicket taker in the test history.
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