Indian Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is a proven India’s trump card. He is currently world’s top-ranked test bowler at the moment and his 22nd five-wicket haul in only his 41st test earlier helped bring an end to some stout resistance from the tourists. His 22nd five-wicket haul has put in the company of other bowling greats like Kapil Dev, Malcolm Marshall, Waqar Younis, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. He also went past 50 wickets in Tests in 2016. Currently, he has 52 wickets, just two behind Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath, who has 54 wickets in eight Tests.

“I haven’t had a five-wicket haul against England. It was at the back of my mind but definitely not something I was worried about,” Ashwin said. He is also the second Indian bowler to take 50-plus wickets in two consecutive years, after Harbhajan Singh who took over 50 wickets in 2001 and 2002.

With such a performance, he has also answered back at criticism that he delivered only if the pitches were tailor-made for his bowling. “I don’t know why these jibes come back at us. Honestly it looks like a jibe (from) where you are looking at Indian wickets. It does honestly. You guys watch the game through the day and pitch is something you can definitely assess better than we do,” Ashwin had said.

Ashwin is the only bowler of recent times apart from Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis to bowl the carrom ball. With four centuries in his Test career so far, Ashwin has earned the reputation of being a bowling all-rounder. Interestingly, had also become the player to claim six Man-of-Series awards surpassing Sachin Tendulkar’s and Virender  Sehwag’s record of receiving five Man-of-Series awards. Earlier, he became the second fastest bowler to claim 200 Test wickets, achieving the milestone in his 37th match, played as the 500 official test match for India.

Earlier in his career, he started as an opening batsman at junior-level cricket, then he dropped down the order and turned into an off break bowler. He made his first-class debut for Tamil Nadu in December 2006, and captained the team the following season. But it was not until the 2010 Indian Premier League (IPL) in which he played for the Chennai Super Kings, which he came into the limelight with his economical bowling and earned his maiden international call-up in the limited-overs formats in June 2010. He was the leading wicket-taker and player of the tournament of the 2010 Champions League Twenty20 in South Africa. He was also part of the Indian squad that won the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Later that year, he made his Test debut against West Indies and became the seventh Indian to take a five-wicket haul on Test debut. He took two five-wicket hauls and scored a century in that series and won the player of the series award. This Chennai cricketer, who made his debut against the West Indies in 2011, is currently ranked third in the International Cricket Council (ICC) ratings for Test bowlers. He was a recipient of the Arjuna Award in 2014 and the BCCI’s international cricketer of the year for the 2012–13 season.

Certainly, Ravichandran Ashwin can do no wrong with either bat or ball. While, with the ball, he is fast becoming a ruthless wicket-taking machine and even with the bat, he can rescue the team from a difficult situation with some vital runs.

by Ashwani Srivastava

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