Team India's juggernaut in red ball cricket at home keeps growing with every Test win they secure as Virat and Co. inflicted a crushing over South Africa in the opening encounter of the 3-match Test series at Vizag.
While it was the superlative batting efforts of Mayank-Rohit opening duo which laid the foundation of victory, the tried and tested spin of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were once again instrumental in carving out yet another thumping win.
India's record breaking spree of 10 successive bilateral series wins at home has been phenomenal. Much of that roaring success of becoming an unbreachable fortress at home goes to the lethal Indian spin twins - Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. The spin kings have bowled match winning spells a plenty over the last 5-6 seasons to cement India's position as the most dominant side on home soil.
India's ace off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin broke yet another record as he became the joint fastest bowler with Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan to scale 350-wickets mark in Test cricket. 350 wickets in just 66 Tests at a staggering average of 25.4 with a under 54-ball strike rate sum up Ashwin's mind boggling record in red ball cricket.
It is a no brainer that Ashwin has been the biggest match winner with the red cherry for the number one ranked Indian team in Tests at home. The offie has scalped a whopping 242 wickets in just 39 Tests at home. Add to that 21 Fifers in Home Tests (Fourth of All Time List), which speak volumes about his match winning credentials.
In a nation which has had a glorious tradition of world class spinners for over five decades, it is never easy to fill into the shoes of greats of the game who have left an impeccable mark. From Subhash Gupte to the spin quartet of Prassana, Bedi, Chandrashekar and Venkatraghavan, to Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, Indian spinners were always hailed among the best of their era.
With Harbhajan Singh fading away, it was R Ashwin who became India's front-line spinner in Test cricket and has ever since donned the responsibility with great success. He first became leader of the pack with Pragyan Ojha and Amit Mishra and then established himself as the Numero Uno in the spin armoury, forming a deadly partnership with Ravindra Jadeja.
A closer look into his numbers in Test cricket simply leave you mesmerized. The fastest bowler in Test cricket to pick 250 (45 Tests), 300 (54) and 350 (66) wickets are some of the numerous records the spin maestro has to his name. No mean feat when you consider the pedigree of world class spinners who have graced the game in over 150 years of Test cricket.
A look at his present contemporaries clearly indicates that he is the stand out spinner among his rivals. Ashwin has been the most successful spinner in World Cricket over the last decade (2009-2019). He is third on the wicket-taking list among spinners, only behind Sri Lanka Rangana Herath (374) and Nathan Lyon (363). A notable achievement considering you had world class spinners in Saeed Ajmal, Graeme Swann, Dilruwan Perera, Shakib Al Hassan and Yasir Shah playing in the same time frame.
Among active spinners playing Test cricket, he is only second behind Australia's Nathan Lyon (363 wickets) in terms of most wickets. Shakib Al Hassan (210) , Yasir Shah (203), Ravindra Jadeja (204), with over 200 Test wickets all follow R Ashwin in the list of top wicket takers.
Be it the English or the Proteas, the Aussies or the Kiwis, every opposition has bitten the dust when Ravichandran Aswhin casts a web around them with a bagful of tricks. A conventional spinner..Not really!! but one who can bamboozle the best with a bagful of tricks.
Apart from his stock off spin delivery, he has a well deceived wrong one, a carom ball and the one which keep straight.. The spell bounding part of his repertoire is that most of those lethal deliveries come out of his hand in pretty much the same fashion, leaving the best of batsmen bewildered.
On rank turners in the Indian subcontinent, Ashwin is simply a lethal strike weapon who unleashes sheer carnage with every second game he plays for India. Ashwin has been fortunate to have a potent bowling partner in Ravindra Jadeja who plays the perfect foil.
‘Jaddu’ with his left arm spin brings in a different variety to the attack. Add to that a potent seam bowling attack - M Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav which puts relentless pressure on the opposition with the new ball and helps the spinners get into the game.
With 350 wickets already in his kitty, the next target would surely be 400 wickets and possible even scaling the herculean 500-wicket milestone. Only three Indian bowlers, Anil Kumble (619), Kapil Dev (434) and Harbhajan Singh (417) have gone past the herculean 400-wicket mark. Ashwin by all fairness has already done enough to cement his place as one of the all-time bowling greats.
The big question remains is whether he has enough in his tank to challenge the Big Three Spin Trio of - Muttiah Muralitharan (800 wickets), Shane Warne (708) and Anil Kumble (619) . Well at 33, spinners are not considered that old and have another 3 to 4 more years to ply their trade with full mastery.
Much to Ashwin's advantage, he only gets picked for the longer format with Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal being the sought after spin duo in the limited overs format. So the monumental 500-wicket mark is very much on the radar for India's biggest strike weapon in Test cricket .