Ravichandran Ashwin closing in on Harbhajan Singh on elite list

Ravichandran Ashwin

Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates after picking up the prized wicket of Steve Smith

Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is on the brink of achieving an impressive milestone in the upcoming four-match Test series against England set to commence next month.

The 34-year-old requires another 12 wickets to overtake veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh as India’s second-highest wicket-taker in home conditions.

Harbhajan Singh picked up 265 wickets at home while Ravichandran Ashwin will be taking the field against England with 254 wickets in India.

Although Ashwin has a long way to go to overhaul former Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble‘s record of 350 Test wickets in India, he could go past Harbhajan’s tally through a decent Test series with the ball against England.

At home, Ravichandran Ashwin has been Team India’s best bowler of the past decade by far. He has an incredible 21 five-wicket hauls and has also taken 10 wickets in a Test match six times.

Earlier, Ravichandran Ashwin used to be criticized for being effective only in home conditions, and on tracks that offer assistance to spinners. He had also lost his place to Ravindra Jadeja as Team India’s first-choice spinner overseas.

However, an injury to Jadeja gave him an opportunity to redeem himself in foreign conditions. Ashwin had a fantastic 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar Trophy Down Under, picking up 12 wickets in three Tests.

Ashwin led the Indian bowling attack brilliantly and bossed proceedings against the likes of Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne.

Ashwin had a huge role to play in Team India’s dramatic Test series in Australia, and is likely to be high on confidence going into the clash against England.

The last time England toured India in 2016, Ravichandran Ashwin had a brilliant series, picking up 28 wickets in five Tests.

He will have added responsibility on his shoulders this time, as Jadeja will be unavailable for at least the first two Tests, having not yet recovered from his thumb injury.

Partnering with the likes of Kuldeep Yadav and Washington Sundar, Ashwin will look to dominate the England batsmen.

The first two Tests of the four-match series will be played at the Chepauk stadium in Chennai. Ravichandran Ashwin will know the conditions and the pitch inside out as he has grown up playing there.

He will back himself to bowl his team to victory and seal their place in the World Test Championship Final at Lord’s.

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Ashwin’s injury- A blessing in disguise?

The news coming in suggests that Ravichandran Ashwin might be injured and will not be able to play the fifth and final Test. Will it make any significant difference? The answer is no. It may be a blessing in disguise instead. It’s time for the world no.3 bowler in the Tests to play some overseas Test match. Ravindra Jadeja didn’t play in South Africa and has not played in the England series yet. So Jadeja deserves a place in the playing eleven in place of Ashwin, even if he is fit to play.

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