R. Ashwin

R. Ashwin, India’s first-choice spinner, turns 27 today. (Getty Images)

Ravichandran Ashwin, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s go-to bowler in recent times, is currently enjoying a refreshing break from his hectic schedule. Plying his trade in a different location every other week, dashing across multiple countries in a short span of time – everything seems to have been put on the backburner as he unwinds for a short while before returning to the hustle-bustle of cricket.

Born on September 17, 1986 in Chennai, the tall, strapping young lad was able to balance his studies and his passion with great difficulty. Following in the footsteps of the legendary Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivas Venkatraghavan, he entered the cricketing arena after completing his engineering degree. In another remarkable coincidence, he is an off-spinner, just like the former greats.

He began as an opening batsman, but a freakish injury saw him switch his focus to bowling fast and flattish off-spin, relying more on bounce than turn, much like former Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble. Following his excellent performances with both bat and ball, he was picked by the Chennai Super Kings for the IPL, providing a viable backup option to veteran Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.

Quickly establishing himself as the premier spinner in the CSK line-up, Ashwin made merry in the third season of the IPL as well as in the 2010 Champions League T20, enabling his side to win both titles. It was only a matter of time before he made his entry into the Indian team, and he hasn’t looked back since then.

On his birthday, here’s a look at five of his best international performances to date:

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