India’s 9-decades long cricketing journey has witnessed loads and loads of matchwinners. Very few of them have been fortunate to be politically incorrect and yet have a successful career. Ravichandran Ashwin is one of those names who are turning out to be the maverick, who can carry forward the similar legacy of Anil Kumble.
India registers series win against New Zealand
In spite of Aijaz Patel plucking up 10 out of 10 Indian batsmen in an innings, India has been able to seal a massive 372 run victory against the Kiwis. Apart from Mayank Aggarwal’s scintillating batting efforts, a major section of the credit goes to Ashwin’s 4 wicket hauls in both New Zealand innings. Ashwin bowled 30.3 overs in the match in which he picked 8 wickets while conceding a paltry 42 runs in the match. For each wicket he took, batsmen on average were able to score only 5.25 runs on his bowling. He has been adjudged man of the series for his performances.
Most 50+ Tests wickets in a calendar year by Indians:
4 – R Ashwin (2015, 2016, 2017, 2021)*
3 – Anil Kumble (1999, 2004, 2006)
3 – Harbhajan Singh (2001, 2002, 2008)
2 – Kapil Dev (1979, 1983)
Can we say now that ASHWIN is The Biggest Match Winner after Jumbo?
— अभिनव (@abhinavpratap_s) December 5, 2021
Ashwin- A record-breaker
While the world cricket was getting thundered by pacers like Pat Cummins, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, a comparatively feeble-looking Ashwin has turned out to be the highest wicket-taker in 2021 with a total of 51 wickets with an average of meagre 16.41 runs per wicket. In the series against New Zealand, Ashwin also strode past Harbhajan in becoming India’s third-highest wicket-taker. Moreover, he also became the second Indian bowler to claim more than 300 wickets at home after Anil Kumble. On top of that, Ashwin surpassed Anil and Harbhajan by taking more than 50 wickets in a calendar year for a record 4th time.
A T20 specialist turned out to be a master in all forms
Initially, known as a T20 specialist, Ashwin was upgraded as a Test match bowler after Harbhajan went out of form. He made his debut against West Indies in 2011. In his very first match, he bagged a total of 9-wickets including a 6-wicket hall in the second innings. Later, his brilliant debut against West Indies was somewhat overshadowed by a poor show in Australia. However, for a debutant, he performed exceptionally well in the year with 26 wickets at an average of 24.81.
In spite of his initial failures on non-supportive tracks in Australia, Ashwin was given an extended run which proved to be a gigantic base for his late booms. Ashwin’s Test career took a sharp spike in 2013, when he was adjudged Man of the series against Australia for his 29 wickets in the series. Ashwin later went on to cement his place as India’s sole Test match-winner during 2015-17. In his 3-year rampaging campaigning, Ashwin trapped 190 batsmen while giving away only 23 runs per wicket.
As his Test career was witnessing a massive upsurge, his upright attitude made sure that he was in regular conflicts with the authorities, due to which Ashwin was ousted from India’s limited-overs teams. This did not deter the engineer turned the cricketer to perform well in Tests. He has remained the sole reliable match-winner in the bowling department at the time of writing.
Ashwin- An all-rounder who can win Tests with both batting and balling
Though, an off-spinner by choice, Ashwin’s first love was batting, which is still visible in his approach to strike the ball. Ashwin has scored 2755 runs at an average of 27.83, a handy average for a batsman who bats below number 7. He has also amassed 5 centuries and 11 half-centuries in his Test career. In terms of batting, 2016 was the best year for Ashwin. During this year, he compiled 612 runs at an average of 43.71.
Not afraid of trying variations-both on and off the field
Mainly known for his off-spin balls, Ashwin is equally potent in bowling leg-spin, doosra, googly. He is also known to be not afraid of trying his variations. The clever use of his stock balls along with these variations has helped him bag a total of 9 Man of the series awards, the highest by an Indian cricketer. It will be foolish to believe that Ashwin’s batting did not contribute to his man of the series awards.
Always a devotee of spin bowling, Ashwin’s no-nonsense attitude led to an alleged feud between him and team management, especially with his captain Virat Kohli. The 51-wickets in 2021, could have been much more if Ashwin was given his deserved opportunity by Kohli and Co in this year’s India tour of England. Ashwin was ousted for four straight matches in a row. Kohli’s resignation from the captaincy of limited over format is believed to be instrumental in bringing Ashwin back to the fore in India’s limited-overs spectrum.
Despite being the highest-ranked Indian bowler, Ashwin fails to get media attention which he thoroughly deserves. He has an astute cricketing brain which is second only to Anil Kumble in terms of trapping the batsmen. Breaking bowling records in the batsman-friendly era and on batsman-friendly wickets is not a thing to be taken for granted. Ashwin deserves more applause from ungrateful Indian media.