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Let’s celebrate omniscient Ravichandran Ashwin with 507 variations

Ashwin- The Professor with the ball

He is a jack of all trades; a omniscient. In his free time, he is a famous Youtuber doing various cricketing analysis and stories of the past memorable incidents. He flies around to invent new skillful players. During the break between two Test matches, one could even find him in the auction table of a domestic tournament. He perhaps knows the laws and rules of the game, better than a few umpires. In case of national duties, he is a premier world-class off-spinner, and a Rubik’s cube for overseas batters. And he also has a B. Tech engineering degree in Information Technology too. All in one life; He is Ravichandran Ashwin.

Foxing batters in a smart way and to continue doing it for around a decade has been the breakfast of Ashwin’s morning. If the social media meme page of art and artist can be created in the new version of Ashwin’s game- then the plate will be overloaded. The art is not easy of planning various modes of dismissing a batter, but Ashwin is a master in it.

From his maiden Test wicket of uprooting the stumps of Darren Bravo, who looked to play the length ball on the square, to finding the thinnest edge on his 507th scalp of James Anderson, Ashwin perhaps has crafted his own aura with the red cherry.

Ashwin becomes the second India bowler to take 500+ Test wicket
©- Johns./ Twitter
Ashwin and the art of creating nightmares

What’s the main aspect of any bowler when he or she stands up with ball on his mark? It’s simple and straightforward thinking but the toughest of executions. It’s trying to bowl on the same line and lengths for the longest period in the red-ball format and keep the door open for every possible mode of dismissals.

When one sees Ashwin operating, it feels he thinks about getting the better of the batter in every possible manner: bowled, leg before the wickets, inside edge to the close in fielders or the outside edge to the wicket-keeper or the slip corridor.

Alastair Cook is a left hander, and his biggest mistake is perhaps batting against Ashwin. It was the 2018 Edgbaston Test. The ball pitched on the middle of middle and turned sharply to take the top of off stump. Cook gave a look of ‘that was unplayable’ and Ashwin just casually celebrated as if he had his normal Chennai lunch of Dosas and idles.

In the second innings of the same Test, Cook had the same nightmare in between three days. This time Ashwin drew the length a little forward and gave the ball more air and time to create questions in the mind of the batter. Cook lean forward and looked to defend it and was beaten with the spin before watching it crushing onto the off stump.

In Delhi 2021, it’s my favorite moment and how Ashwin took two wickets thanks to his old habit of playing with the batter’s mind. Marnus Labuschagne who spoke about ‘being ready in a game of chess’ with Ashwin coming into the series got a boundary through mid-wicket. Cunning Ash, after suffering another paddle sweep, delivered a beautiful loppy off-break, with the angle keeping the seam pointed towards fine leg. Labuschagne defended and became the trap of LBW of the turning ball.

Ashwin- The wizard
©- Johns./ Twitter

Minutes later, India’s nightmare, Steve Smith, walked in. He straightway used his feet to cover the turn. Ashwin, on the second delivery to Smith, turned the seam little square and pushed it wide. The batter, looking to play it for the turn, heard the ball kissing the outside edge to the wicket-keeper.

Check-mate! One strategy, two various deliveries, slight change in plannings, and bang! Ashwin creates the nightmare.

Ashwin and his records all over the world puts himself to a higher level

In just two weeks ago in his 98th Test, Ashwin becomes the second India bowler to pick up his 500th Test wicket, just after Anil Kumble. He also surpassed Anil Kumble with 354 scalps to be the highest wicket taker in India. Ashwin is ranked fourth in the list of most Test wickets by a bowler at home just behind Muttiah Muralitharan (493), James Anderson (434) and Stuart Broad (398).

With 35 five wicket-hauls in Tests, Ashwin is the joint-most by an India, alongside Kumble. Only three bowlers- Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Richard Hadlee have bagged more fifers in Tests. With 91 Test scalps at home against England, Ashwin now is the highest wicket taker for an India bowler against an opponent.

Played In

Mat Wickets Avg S/R 5W 10W E/R Best
Australia 10 39 42.15 86.26 00 00 2.93 4/55
Bangladesh 03 12 28.42 55.92 01 00 3.05 5/87
England and Wales 07 18 28.11 66.72 00 00 2.53 4/62
India 59 354 21.33 46.62 27 06 2.75 7/59
New Zealand 01 03 33.00 58.00 00 00 3.41 3/99
South Africa 07 11 49.64 110.00 00 00 2.71 4/113
Sri Lanka 06 38 21.58 41.16 03 01 3.15 6/46
West Indies 06 32 19.34 41.44 04 01 2.80 7/71
Overall 99 507 23.92 51.31 35 08 2.80 7/59

 

With the amount of spin Ashwin gets in the subcontinent, there was hardly any doubt with the number of wickets he has got either in Sri Lanka or Bangladesh. But what gets overlooked is his economy in SENA countries. When the pacers are taking wickets and creating a tough period against a batter, it’s the job of the lone spinner, as is the case in most cases, to hold one end, and he has done it brilliantly, specially in Australia.

The economy of under three from Ashwin as a finger spinner on those batting surfaces of Australia gives the captain a huge bonus, and he also generates extra bounce of the surface too.

Versus Mat Wkts Avg S/R E/R 5W 10W Best
Afghanistan 01 05 11.80 23.60 3.00 00 00 4/27
Australia 22 114 28.37 62.83 2.71 07 01 7/103
Bangladesh 06 23 26.78 53.87 2.98 01 00 5/87
England 23 105 28.89 59.32 2.92 07 01 6/55
New Zealand 09 66 15.44 35.71 2.59 06 03 7/59
South Africa 14 57 22.28 53.09 2.52 05 01 7/66
Sri Lanka 11 62 21.94 43.90 3.00 03 01 6/46
West Indies 13 75 20.48 42.11 2.92 06 01 7/71
Overall 99 507 23.92 51.31 2.80 35 08 7/59

 

Ashwin has been part of the India side in 58 victories and has picked up 354 wickets at an average of 19.11 and has also notched up almost 31% of the opponent side with 29 five wicket hauls. If that’s not greatness then what is? Wonders the answer!

In 12 venues Ashwin has picked up a five-wicket haul in India, and the 19th venue all around the world. He is only behind three bowlers in taking most fifers in more venues- Muralitharan (25), Warne (20), and Wasim Akram (20).

When one looks at his career and how has developed his bowling, 2015 becomes the brightest of all. Ashwin, in that year, snatched 62 wickets in just nine Tests at an average of 17.21 and strike rate of 36.45 with seven five wicket hauls and couple of ten wicket hauls. The year before it, in 2014, Ashwin had a horrible time with 10 wickets in four Tests at an average of 43.80. and the biggest reason of it was India’s most away tours- in England and Australia.

Zephyr Kane Williamson & the Art of Portraying Silent Runs

Ashwin using his own pen to write his rest of career

Almost towards the end of the piece, and have we spoken enough of his batting? Not many have the glorious numbers with the bat Ashwin has even after taking 507 Test wickets. Over 3300 runs in 99 Tests at an average of 26.47 including 14 fifties and five centuries is not an easy record to grab for many of the all-rounders, but not for Ashwin who once wanted to be an opener.

His record against West Indies is just insane with 608 runs at an average of over 50 with four centuries and one fifty. The only other century that came against England at home Chennai in 2021 showed how determinant he is with his batting in tough conditions. In that 2023 home Australia series too, on many occasions when India was struggling big time, Ashwin came up with many match saving innings.

Now comes the huge million-dollar question- what’s ahead of him. The nearest is him being part of the elite list of Indians to be part of 100 Tests. Even at 37-years, whether Ashwin admits or not, the bird’s eye is still on the next goal of Kumble’s 619 tally, and if Ashwin gets to the point, India can be assured of many victories at home, and stretching their decade long home record.

Nonetheless, it goes without saying, he will bring out every possible tricks of his book to keep himself ahead. He will be fit and will be updated with newly developed evolutions in his bowling. After all, he is a magician with the ball in hand; he is Ravichandran Ashwin.

That Mad Writer
Author: That Mad Writer

Someone who loves how Steve Smith from being Australia's future Shane Warne has become present Don Bradman, gets inspired by Anderson's longevity, gets awed with Kohli's drive and Southee's bowling action. Never gets excited with stats and records, and believes in instincts, and always questions spinners bowling with the new ball.

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