By Dinesh Anandan
Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin became the fastest bowler to reach the milestone of 300 Test wickets today in his 54th match, breaking Dennis Lillee’s record during India’s win over Sri Lanka in the second Test. Ashwin had also beaten Lillee to the 250-wicket milestone when he had got there in 45 Tests, as opposed to 48 by the Australian.
Ashwin – India’s Spin Wizard
Ashwin is the fifth Indian bowler to complete a career 300 wickets in Test cricket behind Anil Kumble (619), Kapil Dev (434), Harbhajan Singh (417) and Zaheer Khan (311). Ashwin has surpassed the likes of legendary spin bowlers like Bishan Singh Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Erapalli Prasanna. Moreover, he holds the record for the most number of Man of the Series awards by an Indian in tests (7 Man of the Series Awards in 54 tests).
Ashwin’s Incredible Run:
Record in Home Test Matches
Record against Asian teams (SL, BAN)
Record in 2017 – 50+ wickets in a calendar year
Record in Asia
Ashwin’s ability to take wickets in away conditions – An area of concern
Record in England, Australia and South Africa
Pitches in England, Australia and South Africa are generally known to assist pace bowling. But certain modern day off-spinners like Nathan Lyon and Moeen Ali have found decent success there. Lyon has a bowling average of 33.14 and Moeen Ali has a bowling average of 35.39 in the test matches played in England, Australia and South Africa conditions. But, Ashwin has a bowling average of 56.58 which definitely needs to improve in the coming years. India will tour South Africa early next year in January 2018. However, Ashwin needs to prove his away performance in the 3 test matches that will be held at Cape Town, Centurion and Johannesburg respectively.
Ashwin as a batsman– A real value addition to the team in overseas conditions
An interesting stat is that Ravichandran Ashwin’s batting average (35.27) in tests away from the subcontinent is higher than that of specialist batsmen like Dhawan (29.91) and Rohit (24.94).
One of the main reasons why Ashwin should be selected in the playing eleven for South Africa tour is because of his ability to score crucial runs for his team as a batsman. His batting technique is well suited to play in any kind of difficult pitches.
Will India’s spin wizard silence his critics by proving his mettle with the ball abroad? Let’s find out when India takes on South Africa in the first test at Cape Town on 5th January 2018.