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Ravichandran Ashwin can overshadow Kapil Dev as India's best all-rounder

India Today logo India Today 24-09-2016
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To begin with, let us issue a statutory warning to all die-hard Kapil Dev fans: you are bound to be a little offended with what we have to tell you. But then these are hard, cold statistics and like they say, numbers don't lie.

Kapil, who is one of the most fabled all-rounders in the history of cricket, said Ravichandran Ashwin would be India's most important player in a hectic home season. There is little to doubt Kapil here - Ashwin has been sensational for India with the ball, picking regular wickets for the team. Besides, he has been outstanding with the bat and his two recent hundreds in the West Indies proved he is undoubtedly the best all-rounder in world cricket.

Ashwin has spent six years in the Test arena as opposed to Kapil's 16-year career. However, we have culled out stats from the first six years of both all-rounders and tried to study the progress made by the two.


© BCCI Photo

Since his Test debut against West Indies four years ago, Ashwin has emerged as a shrewd off-spinner who relishes his battle against the best and the sight of batsmen misreading his carrom ball.

His penchant for outsmarting key rival batsmen manifested in Sri Lanka earlier this year when he soured Kumar Sangakkara's farewell by dismissing the retiring great in each of his last four innings.

Ashwin, who is going through the form of his life, has become India's highest run-scorer and wicket-taker in Test cricket in this year. With an ever-ticking brain, Ashwin's phenomenal numbers has not only helped him cement his place amongst India's best but has also made him the No.1 all-rounder in the world.

Not just that. The series against the West Indies was another reminder of the fact that how Ashwin has evolved as India's biggest match-winner in recent times.

Ashwin was the architect of India's 2-1 series victory in Sri Lanka last year and his 31 scalps against South Africa helped India tame the Proteas 3-0 in the four-Test series at home.

In the Caribbean, Ashwin towered over everyone else with his all-round show in the series that India won 2-0. With 235 runs, including two centuries and 17 wickets with two five-wicket haul, Ashwin bagged his sixth Man of the Series award - the most ever by any Indian in Tests.


© BCCI Photo

With all the bulky numbers behind him, Ashwin can soon overshadow Kapil Dev as India's all-time best all-rounder. In six years since his debut, Ashwin has raked up better numbers than what Kapil had in the same period.

India's former World Cup winning captain, kapil, in his first six years in Test cricket (1978-83), had played 62 matches, scoring 2483 runs at an average of 29.5. During the period, Kapil also scored three hundreds, 13 fifties and got three Man of the Match and Man of the Series awards.

Kapil, who is India's greatest fast-bowling all-rounder, took 247 wickets in the same number of Tests with an average of 27.70 and an economy rate of 2.07. He also bagged 18 five-wickets hauls in six years.

Whereas, six years since his debut in 2011, Ashwin has played 36 Tests, scoring 1439 runs at an average of 34.26. He has also slammed 4 hundreds and 6 fifties so far with his highest score being 124.

What is more astonishing is the fact that Ashwin has bagged six Man of the Match and Man of the Series awards so far.

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When looked at his bowling stats, Ashwin has got 193 wickets at an average of 25.20 and an economy rate of 2.91. He has got the same number of five-wicket hauls as Kapil - 18.

It is also Ashwin's longevity which can help him topple Kapil.

While Kapil retired at the age of 35, Ashwin is aged 30 and can probably go on to play for 7-8 years more. Considering the importance that modern-day cricketers give to fitness, Ashwin is more likely to continue heading India's spin department for long.

India have a long home season ahead and it will be ideal for Ashwin, who is more like a scientist on the cricket field, has got the necessary ingredients to overstep Kapil as India's best all-rounder.

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