R Ashwin Why India Spin Wizard Is Just As Important As Virat Kohli
If Virat Kohli is known as the batting maestro, then Ravichandran Ashwin is arguably the spin wizard for the Indian team. What the Indian Test skipper has been doing with the bat, Ashwin seems to be doing exactly the same with the ball in his hand.
The right-arm offie has witnessed a meteoric rise in the past couple of years with the opposition batsmen facing the heat. His carrom ball, an arm ball just as good, his control over his offbreaks, and a sharp mind has made Ashwin a quintessential spinner for his side.
The 30-year-old was once again at his prolific best when he decimated the England middle-order in the fourth Test at Wankhede. After taking four wickets on the first day, Ashwin took just 12 balls to strike the first blow against England on Day 2 and complete his five-for.
It was Ashwin's 23rd five-wicket haul in only his 43rd Test match. The fact that Indian legend Kapil Dev took 131 Tests to notch up his 23rd fifer goes on show how consistent the Indian off-spinner has been for his side.
England batsman Ben Stokes became Ashwin's victim early in the day after edging the ball to first slip. The on-field umpire had initially ruled Stokes not out, but a review by India called the curtains on the left-hander's innings.
Tail-ender Jake Ball, too, couldn't handle Ashwin's artistry with ball and became his sixth victim in the innings after nicking one to the wicket-keeper. India's premier spinner finished his spell at 6-112 with an economy-rate of under 3.
He is now only behind his coach Anil Kumble and out-of-favour offie, Harbhajan Singh in the list of most five-wicket hauls by an Indian in Test cricket. Kumble is currently leads the list with 35 five-fors, while Bhajji is just two fifers ahead of Ashwin.
Ashwin is currently on seventh spot in the list of India's leading wicket-takers in Tests. He has gone past Javagal Srinath's record of 236 Test wickets and is now just two wickets adrift of BS Chandrasekhar's mark of 242 scalps.
The off-spinner was been on fire in 2016, claiming seven five-fors in Test matches. In the last two years, Ashwin was clinched 14 five-wicket hauls. Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan is another spinner who notched up 14 five-fors in a two-year period.
In 2011, Ashwin took nine wickets in his maiden Test against West Indies - the second-highest by an Indian debutant after Narendra Hirwani's 16 scalps against the Windies in 1988.
Following a sensational debut, Ashwin went on to register nine five-fors in his first 16 Tests. In 2013, he broke Erapalli Prasanna's Indian record for the fastest to 100 Test wickets by reaching the milestone in only his 18th match.
He was instrumental in India's 3-0 Test series win against South Africa in 2015, finishing the tour with 31 scalps to his name. Against New Zealand earlier this year, Ashwin continued to prove his mettle and emerged with 27 wickets in three Test matches.
An opener with the bat before taking up spin bowling, Ashwin has also proved to be a potent batsman lower-down the order for India. With sound technique and plenty of shots in his armoury, Ashwin has slammed four hundreds and nine fifties in 42 Test matches he has played so far.
For a man who was left out for the seventh time in nine Tests (at Adelaide Oval in December, 2014), Ashwin didn't just came back strong to cement his position, he has truly gone on to become India's premier match-winner.