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Ashwin's half-year exploits

The Cricketer of the Year and the ICC Bowler of the Year. It was certainly a double whammy for Ravichandran Ashwin.

Ashwins half-year exploits
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R Ashwin

Chennai

A couple of hundreds to increase his new-found status as a leading all-rounder too. But from the Indian team point of view what is significant is that he has claimed 72 wickets from 12 Tests that he played in the last six months. 

For the record, he played his first Test of the year only in July and his average number of wickets per Test is increasing with every passing year. Only Muthiah Muralitharan has an average of six wickets per Test and Richard Hadlee and Dennis Lillee have an average of five-plus wickets per Test. It is difficult to see where Ashwin, with 248 wickets from 44 Tests, would be on the chart when he ends his career. It can be argued that Ashwin played eight of the 12 Tests this year at home and so the figures won’t matter much as he has to prove himself overseas too to have an impartial judgement of his career. 

But then, Anil Kumble who has 600 wickets and Muralitharan too had this uneven record of wickets taken in the home-away Tests. Overall, the year was indeed significant for Ashwin. He had eight five-wicket hauls and many useful contributions with the bat. Interestingly, he went wicket-less in the first innings of his first Test this year at North Sound and also the last innings against England in Chennai. 

Another significant factor was that 11 of the 12 pitches that he played this year were not big turning wickets and that adds to his performance profile, keeping at bay the outside view that the off-spinner could struggle overseas. He will be playing another five Tests at home in the first half of next year before he would chase wickets on pitches abroad. 

“It’s too early to say whether, Ashwin is going to be more successful than Anil Kumble,” said Sunil Subramaniam, the off-spinner’s coach. “We have got some five Tests more at home but what is important is that he is putting in a lot more work on the ball.” Sunil said he watched one session at Chepauk when Ashwin picked up one wicket and was surprised that he did not get too many. “Sometimes, it is like that, the wicket column will not do justice on how you bowl. He bowled very well in the fifth Test and he could get only one,” said Subramaniam.

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