New Delhi: Ravichandran Ashwin is currently like an elephant on the charge, who is breaking past all barriers and creating a trail of his own. The off-spinner picked up 6 wickets in the first innings of the Mumbai Test match against England and thus equalled a man who has inspired an entire generation of cricketers in India.
This was the 23rd time that Ashwin had picked up a 5-wicket haul in a Test match, considered by pundits as an equivalent of a Test century by a batsman, thus emulating the legendary Kapil Dev, who too had picked up 23 five-wicket hauls in his decorated career.
Ashwin's achievement also puts him in the same league as two other legendary pacemen who ruled the roost in the 70s and 80s respectively - Dennis Lillee and Imran Khan. Both these pacers ended their illustrious careers with 23 five-wicket hauls respectively, but they too didn't hit the mark as early as Ashwin has.
The off spinner though has a long way to go in terms of catching up with the best in the business. Muttiah Muralitharan's mark of 67 five-wicket hauls is an unimaginable figure; and in many ways the gold standard in cricket's longest format. Next to him is the Australian magician Shane Warne, who is second best by a distance at 37.
Ashwin's immediate target though would be to get past compatriot Harbhajan Singh, who has picked up 5 wickets in an innings 25 times in his career. With Harbhajan out of favour for the longest format, he is unlikely to add to that tally.
The Indian record for the most five-wicket hauls in Test cricket though rests with current Indian coach Anil Kumble, who picked up a fifer 35 times in his long and decorated career. And if Ashwin does manage to get past him, Kumble is one man, who won't be complaining.
The medium pacer had picked up 75 wickets in the year 1983, which is the most that an Indian bowler has picked up in a given year. Just 10 wickets shy with 3 more innings to bowl, Ashwin is in business to overshadow that record as well.