New Delhi: With the Indians back to playing the longest format of the game — the first Test between India and Sri Lanka starts at the Eden Gardens from Thursday — spin spearhead R Ashwin looks at another milestone that awaits to be broken. Ashwin needs 8 wickets to become the fastest to 300 Test wickets and he has a cover of 4 Test matches.
While Ashwin has picked 292 wickets in 52 games, Dennis Lillee sits atop the list at present with 300 wickets in 56 games. Sri Lanka’s spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan sits second with 300 wickets from 58 Test matches. And joint-third on the list are Richard Hadlee, Malcom Marshall and Dale Steyn. All of them picked their 300th Test wicket in their 61st game.
The current Indian record holder to this landmark — 300 Test wickets — Anil Kumble reached the feat in his 66th Test.
Ashwin is also just 6 wickets away from claiming 50 Test wickets in 2017. It will be the third successive calendar year he’s managed 50 or more Test wickets. While he picked 62 wickets in 9 games in 2015, he picked 72 wickets in 12 games in 2016.
It’s interesting to see just how well Ashwin bounced back after a horrid 2014, when he was dropped from the Test side. He went from 10 Test wickets at an average of 43.80 in 2014 to 62 Test wickets in 2015 at an average of 17.20. Over the last 3 years in Test cricket, Ashwin has claimed 178 Test wickets in just 29 matches. He's picked up 18 of his 26 Test 5-fors and 5 of his 7 Test 10-fors during this period too.
But his record at the Eden Gardens isn’t the best (at least with ball in hand). Of the venues he’s played more than 2 Tests in India, Ashwin’s bowling average at Eden Gardens is his worst (34.05). It’s the only ground in India where he’s played at least 2 Tests in and failed to take a Test 5-for. Amongst grounds he’s played at least 2 Tests at in India, Ashwin’s E/R at Eden (3.19 RPO) is his personal worst.