Ravichandran Ashwin is Becoming World's Envy, India's Pride
Ravichandran Ashwin returned a career-best 7/66 and his 12-wicket haul in the Nagpur Test not only gave captain Virat Kohli his first series win at home but a series victory against South Africa after 11 years.
- Siddharth Vishwanathan
- Updated: November 27, 2015 07:49 PM IST
Ravichandran Ashwin's brilliant performance in the third Test at Nagpur has made him, in the words of Indian skipper Virat Kohli, a champion bowler.
Kohli's public praise of his leading off-spinner highlights Ashwin's importance in India's resurgence as a young Test-playing nation.
The statistics back up the Tamil Nadu offspinner's remarkable consistency. In 31 Tests, Ashwin has picked up 15 five-wicket hauls, meaning one in every two Test matches. In addition to his four 10-wicket hauls, Ashwin now has the most wickets for a spinner after 31 matches. (Match Report | Highlights)
In Nagpur on Friday, Ashwin broke a clutch of records. His 7/66 in the second innings was a career-best effort. His match figures of 12/98 are the best in Test matches between India and South Africa, breaking Allan Donald's record of 12/139 at Port Elizabeth in 1992.
Ashwin's performance helped India end South Africa's nine-year Test winning streak overseas. No wonder, Kohli is proud of the 29-year-old hitman.
Leading wicket-taker of 2015
After this stunning performance against South Africa, Ashwin is the leading wicket-taker of 2015 with 55 wickets in eight Tests at a magnificent average of 17.81.
In his last seven Tests, he has picked 50 wickets, including 21 in the series against Sri Lanka which gave India their first victory in the island nation after 22 years. With every series, Ashwin's contributions have defined the outcome for India.
With 24 wickets currently in the ongoing series, Ashwin has stamped his authority as the number one spin bowler in the world. Apart from the sheer volume of his numbers, there are other factors which make him one of the best.
In his recent column on ESPNCricinfo, former Test batsman and TV commentator Sanjay Manjrekar wrote that Ashwin was a bowler who looked to deceive batsman in the air and not rely on assistance of the pitch.
"He is noticeably more patient. He does not bowl four different balls in an over; he tries to make his offspin his main weapon and is putting more work into the delivery," Manjrekar said.
Mark of a champion bowler
Ashwin's mode of dismissals in this series is proof of Ashwin's resurgence. His dismissal of Hashim Amla in the first Test, where he had him stumped, was a classic indicator of being beaten in the air.
The dismissal of AB de Villiers in Nagpur was a classic. Ashwin pitched this carrom ball on the perfect length, which flummoxed de Villiers. He played down the wrong line and was trapped in front. Sunil Gavaskar said: "It was terrific stuff. It was a joy to watch how Ashwin out-thought De Villiers. He is indeed the world's best."
In this series so far, Ashwin has been magnificent with his line and length. By not giving bad balls in a spell, Ashwin built relentless pressure on the South African top order. Even the more accomplished batsmen were forced to making mistakes.
The victory over the world No.1 ranked Test team after 11 years has been possible only due to Ashwin's brilliance.