With his partner in decimating opposition batting line-ups, Ravindra Jadeja, ruled out of the four-match Test series against England starting from the 5th of February in Chennai, the pressure will be on R Ashwin to come up with the goods and perform for India in what is a hugely significant series keeping in mind the World Test Championship Final at Lord’s in June.
Ashwin has been a genius at home bamboozling opposition line-ups with his crafty off-spin and cricketing intelligence. He is, by far, India’s greatest match-winner, in home conditions since his debut in 2011.
Overall in his illustrious Test career, Ashwin has taken a total of 377 wickets in 74 matches at an average of 25.53. But what really stands out is his strike rate of 54! It is the best (along with Stuart MacGill) for a spinner (min. 150 wickets) in the history of Test cricket. This implies Ashwin has had a better propensity to pick wickets than legends like Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, Anil Kumble amongst others. Being an off-spinner, this is an even special achievement!
While he has a decent record overseas, what really makes Ashwin great is his outstanding record in India.
THE BEST STRIKE RATE FOR A SPINNER IN HOME CONDITIONS IN TEST CRICKET HISTORY
Ashwin has picked a staggering 254 wickets in just 43 Tests at an average of 22.8 in India. But again the parameter which truly stands out is his strike rate. At 49.4, it is the best for a spinner (min. 100 wickets) at home in Test cricket history. This is a monumental feat and basically means that Ashwin in India is a more dangerous bowler more likely to get wickets than Muralitharan was in Sri Lanka or Jim Laker was in England or Anil Kumble was in India or Shane Warne was in Australia.
INDIA’S BIGGEST MATCH-WINNER IN THEIR MOST DOMINANT PERIOD AT HOME IN HISTORY
India has not lost a Test series at home since being beaten by England in November, 2012. They have been victorious in all the 12 home series they have played since February 2013 – this is an astonishing record. India has won 28 of the 34 home Tests since February 2013, drawn 5 and lost just one solitary match in this time-frame – to Australia in the series opener in Pune in 2017. Such domination at home has seldom been witnessed by any team in any era in Test cricket history!
Ashwin has been the dominating force in India’s most dominating era at home in their Test history. He has picked 200 wickets in just 34 home Tests at an average of 21.57 and strike rate of 47.8 including 16 fifers and 5 ten-wickets in a match during this period.
Such has been his domination that he has been the highest series wicket-taker for India in four major wins at home in this period. Ashwin picked 31 wickets in the 3-0 win against South Africa in 2015-16, 29 wickets in the 4-0 sweep in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2013, 28 wickets the last time England toured India in 2016-17 and were hammered 4-0 and 27 wickets in the 3-0 sweep against New Zealand in 2016.
He occupies the top 4 positions for the maximum wickets taken by an Indian bowler in a home series in this period – such has been his ruthlessness and consistency.
180 of his 200 wickets (90%) at home in this time-frame have come in victorious matches for India. Ashwin averages just 18.99 and has a strike rate of 43.4 in these 28 matches. Such has been his dominating performance in his team’s domination at home in the last 8 years.
Such has been his consistency that he has gone wicket-less in just 14 of the 115 innings he has bowled in since 2013. He has picked three or more wickets as many as 57 times, ie in almost half the innings he has bowled in during this period – these are sensational numbers from the off-spinner.
A MORE POTENT FORCE AT HOME THAN KUMBLE OF THE 1990s
Anil Kumble was India’s greatest match-winner in the 1990s – a decade in which India did not lose a single Test series at home. The leg spinner picked 163 wickets in 29 home Tests at an average of 21.35 and strike rate of 54.6 including 11 fifers and 3 ten-wickets in a match hauls in this period. Ashwin has bettered the legend in terms of wicket-taking prowess and picked 200 wickets in 34 Tests at an average of 21.57 and strike rate of 47.8 including 16 fifers and 5 ten-wickets in a match hauls in the eight year period post February 2013.
While Kumble of the 1990s had a marginally better average in victorious matches at home (16.74 compared to Ashwin’s 18.99 post 2013), Ashwin has a slightly better strike rate (43.4 as compared to 44.5).
As he nears the landmark of 400 Test wickets, Ashwin has already left a legacy in Indian cricket – he has dominated one of the most dominating eras at home for a team in Test cricket history!