Ravichandran Ashwin: Another Anil Kumble in the making?
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Ravichandran Ashwin, Nathan Lyon, Yasir Shah, Rangana Herath, Moeen Ali are the leading spinners of their respective sides. Ashwin has been performing very well in past couple of years and could be counted as the leading spinner in world cricket. International cricket is lucky that all spinners are fighting for the top spot and Ashwin is just ahead amongst the slow bowlers.
Ashwin is going through a purple patch and the ball is coming out very nicely from his hand. He scored 113 runs batting at No.6 and then followed it up with 7 for 83 in the second innings. This was Ashwin first five for outside Asia. He was deservedly named man of the match. Ashwin has improved his game leaps and bounds and is one of the few players in the Indian team who are certainties. He certainly likes playing against the WI as this was his third Test hundred and all of them have come against windies. Ashwin also regained his position as No. 1 Test bowler in the ICC rankings. Ashwin took his 18th five for against WI at Jamaica and is closing on 200 Test wickets in double quick time.
Ashwin was instrumental in India defeating South Africa at home in late 2015. Proteas were undefeated on road for nine years. He picked up 31 wickets with four five-wicket hauls and was adjudged man of the series. He was also the man of the series against Sri Lankans in SL by picking up 21 wickets with two five-wicket hauls and had the number of Kumar Sangakkara, who was playing his last series by dismissing him four times. India won in SL after the gap of 22 long years and Ashwin was one the main factor.
In a career which is less than five years old at Test level, Ashwin has already won five man of the series award and has 17 five-wicket hauls, four times 10 wickets in a match in 33 Test matches. He could break the record of Clarrie Grimmett, who was the fastest to 200 Test wickets. He got there in 36 Test matches. Ashwin already has 188 wickets to his name and could get there if he continues his good form. Ashwin is the fastest Indian bowler to 100 Test wickets.
Anil Kumble and R Ashwin have lot in common. They both come from southern part of India. Just like Kumble, Ashwin also holds a degree in engineering. They both work hard on their game and believe in doing the hard yards. Anil Kumble got 619 wickets in 132 Test matches through sheer hard work, grit and determination. He never gave up and in the latter part of his career he reinvented himself and became India’s match winner overseas too. Ashwin will get to learn so much from the newly appointed head coach of Indian team. They both rely on bounce and are not known for turning the delivery too much. Kumble and Ashwin both are very competitive and like to give 100% on the field.
Ashwin has his critics too. He hasn’t performed that well in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and England. The only blemish in his terrific record is his record outside subcontinent. He couldn’t win India Johannesburg Test match when India had 458 runs to defend and subsequently got dropped from the team. Test cricket is the hardest form of the game and Ashwin is still learning his trade at the International circuit. He performed admirably in the last away series against Australia in 2014-15 summer after not playing in the first Test at Adelaide Oval, which he should have played considering Nathan Lyon (Aussie off-spinner) won Australia that game.
The team of Virat Kohli and Kumble are a proactive one. They will not wait for things to happen. They already have backed Ashwin to bat at number six position and Ashwin has for the time being cemented his place by scoring a well measured 113 runs and showing application which was missing by players who occupied that position.
Kapil Dev was the last genuine all-rounder that India had and Ashwin has it in him to fill those huge boots and make number six position his own. India wiil be playing 13 Test at home against Australia, NZ, England and Bangladesh. India needs a fit and firing Ashwin to tame the opposition and India could again be the number one Test team in the world.
Ashwin has a great ally in Kumble to understand the nuances and craft of spin bowling. If India want to perform well then Ashwin has to raise his game and who better than ‘Jumbo’ to help India’s leading spinner on the way.