With 268 scalps, offie Ashwin is now only behind spin legend Anil Kumble’s 350 wickets in home Tests. Ashwin went past Harbhajan, who took 265 wickets in India at an average of 28.76, by dismissing Ben Stokes with a perfect off-spinner on the second day of the second Test against England here.
“When I was watching the 2001 series where Bhajju Pa (Harbhajan) was playing, I didn’t even imagine that I would go out and become an off-spinner for the country.
“I was still a batsman for my state, trying to accelerate a career towards batting and playing for the country. I wasn’t sure whether I would go on and become a player for the Indian team,” Ashwin said at a virtual press conference.
The 34-year-old Ashwin, who has so far taken 391 wickets from 76 Tests at an impressive average of 25.26, was not aware of his feat until he had come for the media interaction at the end of the day’s play.
According to Ashwin, a lot of his teammates, when he was young, would make fun of him as he used to try bowling like Harbhajan.
“Lots of my teammates from that age, from that generation, you know, used to make fun of me, because I used to bowl like Bhajju Pa, my action, I used to try and bowl like him and all that.
“So, from there on to come one and actually break the record of something that he possesses, has to be incredibly special. I didn’t know of it, now that I do know of it, I feel happy. Sorry, Bhajju Pa...,” said Ashwin. His five for 43 helped India bowl out England for 134 in its first innings and take complete command of the match at Chepauk.
Ashwin’s wickets at home have come at an excellent average of 22.67. The seasoned campaigner has picked five wickets in an innings a staggering 29 times and 10-wicket hauls seven times, with a best innings figures of seven for 59 and match return of 13 for 140.
Kumble is India’s leading wicket-taker in Test matches with 619 scalps to his name. Harbhajan is third in the overall standings with 417 wickets and Ashwin, who is inching towards the 400-mark, is placed fourth.