NAGPUR: Ravichandran Ashwin should have good memories of the VCA Stadium in the outskirts of Orange City. It was here in 2015 that he returned match figures of 12/98 against South Africa. It remains his best haul in a Test match.After Monday, the off-spinner might remember the venue for another reason.
A highlight of India’s joint-biggest innings win was Ashwin becoming the fastest to take 300 Test wickets.
Playing his 54th Test, the IT engineer from Chennai bettered the mark of 56 set by Dennis Lillee. In a match dominated by four centuries by Indians, Ashwin played no less a part with figures of 4/67 and 4/63.
Eulogies of Ashwin are sometimes followed by a smirk.
They say that most of his success is at home, many on pitches made for spinners, against batsmen not used to these conditions.
No less than 216 of his wickets have come in India, from 34 Tests. What they don’t say is Ashwin doesn’t ask for those pitches. He bowls on what is given and almost as a rule comes up with figures better than others.
“Hats off to Ashwin. He’s been, in the last five-six years, one of our main match-winners. The way he has performed and brought the team back from difficult situations deserves credit,” acknowledged Rohit Sharma.
“I hope he continues this way and wish him all the luck."
He knows what exactly he’s doing and works according to his plans. It’s important that you stay within your limits and Ashwin does that.”Sri Lankans were no match for a bowler who has troubled better teams. But even in this lopsided contest, Ashwin did things not many can.
On the first day of the Test when there was no turn on the pitch, he went around the wicket and landed one on off-middle, that instead of spinning went straight with the angle. Rookie Dasun Shanaka had no clue what hit his off stump.
Things like that characterise him. Not content with what he has, he thinks about his bowling and comes up with unique ideas.
From a distance, it seems like a constant process of self-assessment and innovation. Already a master of the carom ball that goes the other way, he is eager to add to his repertoire and things like the one that undid Shanaka suggest there is more coming from the Ashwin factory of tricks.
Playing in his 54th Test, Ashwin became the fastest bowler to 300 wickets. Australia’s legend Dennis Lillee held the record previously, having reached the landmark in 56.
Ashwin is the third Indian spinner after Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh to reach the landmark. Overall, he is the eighth spinner to achieve the feat.
Balls is all that took Ashwin to reach 300 Test wickets. It is way ahead of Shane Warne who bowled 18501 deliveries (477 overs).
The strike-rate at which Ashwin has taken the wickets.
Ashwin is only the fifth Indian bowler to complete 300 wickets in Tests behind Anil Kumble (619), Kapil Dev (434), Harbhajan Singh (417) and Zaheer Khan (311).