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Ravichandran Ashwin's golden Test run in 2016 continues

India Today logo India Today 28-11-2016
© AP Photo

To say that India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is in fine form would be an understatement. Apart from captain Virat Kohli, nobody is more important to India's Test success on home soil than the lanky tweaker.

And yesterday he achieved yet another rare milestone in Mohali as India jostled against England to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match Test series.

Ashwin, who is the quickest Indian and second-fastest in the world to reach the 200-wicket mark in Tests, became the third Indian to take more than 50 wickets and score in excess of 500 runs in Tests in a calendar year.

Only Vinoo Mankad in 1952 and Kapil Dev in 1979 and 1983 respectively have been able to achieve the feat in the past. Ashwin is only the seventh allrounder in the world to achieve the feat.

The Tamil Nadu spinner also completed the allround double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in India, thus becoming only the fifth player to accomplish this feat.

One day two of the ongoing third Test in Mohali, Ashwin came to India's rescue with the bat after the hosts had lost three quick wickets soon after tea.

Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and debutant Karun Nair were all back to the pavilion in a span of four overs and eight runs. However, Ashwin, who scored his ninth Test fifth, first forged a 48-run sixth-wicket stand with Kohli and then was involved in an unbeaten 67-run partnership with Ravindra Jadeja for the seventh wicket.

© AP Photo

This was also the Ashwin and Jadeja's first 50-plus stand in Test cricket. The partnership between the spin twins helped India stage a fightback against England as they ended Day 2 at 271/6, still trailing by 12 runs.

Ashwin, who is the world No.1 Test bowler and the No.1 all-rounder, has been in terrific form this year and is winning India matches not only with his exceptional bowling but also by batting brilliantly.

In 10 Tests this year, Ashwin has scalped 56 wickets, including six five-wicket hauls. Whereas, he has amassed 530 runs in 12 innings this year, including two centuries against the West Indies and three fifties. Overall, Ashwin has 232 wickets and 1734 runs in 42 Tests.

Ashwin is India's most successful Test bowler at home in the last two years, ahead of Jadeja and leg-spinner Amit Mishra.

The 30-year-old has risen to the top of the ICC Test bowling rankings on the back of seven Man of the Series performances, four of them being back-to-back. The feat is the most by any Indian in the longest format of the game, surpassing the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Kapil Dev, Harbhajan Singh, Rahul Dravid, Mohammad Azharuddin and Sourav Ganguly.

His success with the bat - he has four Test centuries and nine fifties - has given Kohli the luxury of playing five bowlers and Ashwin has been promoted to number six in the Indian order, ahead of wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.

India are keen to prolong their stay at the top of the ICC Test rankings and with another seven Test matches at home and Ashwin on fire, it would be hard to bet against it.

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