Ravichandran Reliable Ashwin
Yes reliable, a word which we can relate to India’s prominent bowler and the highest wicket taker of the decade Mr. Ravichandran Ashwin. From Starting his career as an opening batsman for Tamil Nadu in junior level to turning into an off spinner Ashwin has came a long way. He first came in the limelight in the 2010 season of the Indian Premier League under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He bowled in the powerplay, got crucial wickets and was economically in the entire season and later was rewarded by his maiden international call up. Ash was the player of the series in the 2010 Champions League held in South Africa and was also the part of 2011 World Cup winning team.
Ashwin was included in the test team in 2011 series against the West Indies because Harbhajan Singh was going through a tough time and was dropped from the side. He made his debut in the very first game in Delhi, claimed a sixfer in the second innings and was adjusted Man of the Match thus, becomed only the third Indian player to do so on test debut. In his very third test in Mumbai, Ashwin claimed fifer in the test and scored a century in the match. Only two Indians have achieved this feat before him. Interestingly, the match ended in a draw but, the scores of both teams are leveled.
In starting days of his test carrier, Ashwin formed a formidable partnership with Pragyan Ojha on Indian wickets. Both of them are lethal on Indian tracks and have control over their stock deliveries. In beginning of his career, Ashwin want wicket on every delivery he bowls and wants something to happen on his bowling. When it doesn’t come, he starts showing signs of impatience but at times seemed to come up with the wicket taking deliveries regularly, andseemingly out of nowhere. On the other hand Ojha is a classical slow left arm spinner who relies on flight and length to pick wickets. Ashwin was more of a variation type bowler who have carrom bowl in his armory. He offered more with the bat so becomed India’s first choice spinner in the overseas, but his performance was not up to the mark and was ordinary in the India’s tour to Australia.
Ashwin has a phenomenal record on home tracks but his overseas performance always comes under radar. Although his stats speaks different story. Ashwin has 108 wickets in 27 away Test and that’s 4 wickets per overseas match at average 31.39 and strike-rate 63.4. Jadeja has 54 wickets in 15 away Tests – that’s 3.6 wickets per overseas match at average 35.05 and strike-rate 74. Arguably the greatest Indian spinner of all time, Anil Kumble took 269 wickets in 69 away Tests (3.89 per overseas match) at average 35.85 and strike-rate 74.5. Harbhajan Singh, took 152 wickets in 48 away Tests (3.16 per overseas match) at average 38.90 and strike-rate 76.2. Back to the seventies, Erapalli Prasanna took 94 wickets in 27 away Tests (3.48 per overseas match) at average 33.85 and strike-rate 81.4. Bishan Bedi took 129 wickets in 37 away Tests (3.48 per overseas match) at average 33.72 and strike-rate 85. Bhagwat Chandrasekhar took 100 wickets in 26 away Tests (3.84 per overseas match) at average 32.66 and strike-rate 67.7.
His only home series where he was not up to the mark was England’s tour to India where the Englishman dominated India in their den and won 2-1. This series was the only home series of the last decade where India were defeated at home. This shows the home dominance of India and Ashwin was vital cog in it. In that series, Ashwin and Indian spinners were swept by Sir Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen. This was the only series where the touring party dominated over the Indian’s. Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann were all over the Indian batters.
After the forgettable series against the Englishmen, Australia toured India in 2013. Ashwin recovered from his poor form and was the highest wicket taker of the series with 29 scalps. He formed a trio of spin bowling with Ojha and Jadeja in that series. The trio dismantled the Kangaroos and clean swept the series 4-0. He was adjusted as the “Man of the Series “for his outstanding performances. Ashwin is the only bowler to have dismissed all opposition players in a test series. He achieved this special landmark in the same series against Australia. This is the first and only insistence that a bowler achieved this amazing feat. During the series, Australia had used 16 players in 4 test matches and Ashwin had dismissed all of them once or more.
He was also the part of 2013 Champions trophy winning team led by MSD. Ashwin was economical in the final returning with the figures of 2-15 in his 4 overs in a low scoring encounter against England with match being reduced to 20 overs per side. He was the leading wicket taker in 2013 Sachin’s farewell series against West Indies with 12 scalps and scored a century in the first test at Eden Garden which proved his importance with the bat. As time passed, Ashwin was unplayable on Indian Subcontinent tracks but has nothing to show on his overseas record chart. India toured to South Africa, England and Australia from 2013 to 2015 respectively. Ashwin went wicketless in the only test he played in South Africa and was replaced by Jadeja in second. Critics criticized his wicket taking ability on foreign tracks as he was outplayed by Moeen Ali in England and Nathon Lyon in Australia. 2015 World Cup was average for Ashwin as India was crushed by Australia in the semifinal but Ashwin remains integral part of all formats.
Sangakkara’s final Test series came against India at home in 2015. He played only the first two Tests, at Galle and P Sara Oval, Colombo. However, the Sri Lankan maestro failed to get to a half-century any of his final four innings, succumbing to Ashwin on all four occasions. Ashwin became the only bowler in history to dismiss Sangakkara in four successive innings. By the end of 2015 South Africa toured India for a 4 match test series. Ashwin destroyed theAfricans, picked 31 wickets and was equally supported by Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja. He was adjudged as the player of the series. This series was also remembered for the turning tracks which were tailor made for the spinners.
Ashwin was the part of the ICC World T20 squad which was thrashed by the West Indies in the semifinal. He was also in the squad for the 2017 Champions Trophy and was partnered by Ravindra Jadeja. Both of them had a very ordinary Champions trophy and with the emergence of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, India felt necessity of wrist spinners in the limited overs arena and plus there is dip in both Ashwin Jadeja’s limited over form. They both were replaced by Kuldeep and Chahal from the limited overs squad.
Ashwin is the joint fastest (with Ian Botham and Jack Gregory) to the double of 50 wickets and 500 runs. All three men got to the landmark in their 11th Tests. Ashwin’s impressive all-round skills can be further defined; among all Indians with the 100 wicket-1,000 run double, Ashwin’s batting average of 34.26 is second only to Ravi Shastri, while his bowling average of 25.20 is the best. This makes his overall numbers better than the likes of Kapil Dev, Vinoo Mankad, and Anil Kumble.
Ashwin was regular member of CSK in IPL. He then played for Rising Pune Supergiant when CSK got banned for two years. He was skipper of Kings XI Punjab in 2019 IPL and now traded to Delhi Capitals for the 2020 audition. He was the leader of India’s test attack which remained Number 1 on ICC test rankings for 4 years under Virat. Ashwin is considered as one of the sharpest cricketing brains in the cricket community. He is joint fastest to 350 test wickets with legendary Srilankan Muttiah Muralitharan. Both of them took 66 matches to reach this feat. Ashwin ended last decade as the highest wicket taker of the decade with 564 scalps across all formats and emerged as the legend of the game. Indian cricket and its billion fans should be elated too because we are witnessing a bowling greatness.
By Paramdeep Rathee