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Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja: The deadliest spin bowling duo in Test cricket

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Here's taking a statistical look at the impact the spin bowling duo of Ashwin and Jadeja has had in Test cricket over the past 4 years.

Jadeja and Ashwin
The Indian spinners have terrorised batsmen for nearly half a decade (Image courtesy: NDTV Sports)

 Bowlers hunt in pairs, it’s said. In Test cricket, right since the beginning, we’ve grown up on stories of fearsome and successful bowling pairs like Hall and Griffith, Trueman and Statham, Lillee and Thomson, Botham and Willis, Wasim and Waqar, McGrath and Gillespie, Walsh and Ambrose, and more recently, Broad and Anderson, Steyn and Morkel, even Boult and Southee.

This term "hunting in pairs" is used more for fast bowlers than spinners as we saw with the above examples, may be because the term “hunt” exudes some ferocity and aggression which we associate with pacers, but this can fairly easily be used for spinners too. We’ve seen how Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh combined to form a hugely successful bowling-duo for India in Test matches, aggregating 501 wickets between them in the 99 innings they bowled together.

Following in their footsteps, a current spin bowling pair that is combining together to bring great results for the Indian team in Test Cricket is that of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

As individuals, they are like chalk and cheese. While Ashwin looks the more meticulous kind, someone who would take great pride in planning about how to get a batsman out and then feeling a sense of satisfaction when it comes off, Jadeja seems the more “rough around the edges” kind of a character.

Ashwin always seems inclined towards experimenting to try and add something new to his bowling armory, whereas Jadeja seems content to stick to what he knows best; bowling stump-to-stump, which combined with his natural variations works for him more often than not.

Also Read: SK Play of the day: Ravichandran Ashwin uses his reflexes to send Kiwi batsman packing

Together, though, they have been the biggest assets for the Indian Test captains, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, especially when it comes to winning Test matches at home.

Sample these numbers

India’s overall stats in Test matches Ashwin and Jadeja have played together

MatchesWonLostDrawTiedWin %
131012076.92

As we see, they have played 13 matches together since Jadeja’s debut in December 2012, and out of those, Team India has won 10, drawn 2 and lost just 1! This is an incredible statistic that in almost 4 years, India has lost just one Test in which both these spinners were in the playing XI.

Of the two drawn Tests, one was that rain-affected Test in Bangalore against South Africa, which saw no play for 4 days, in a series of 4 Tests where India won the other 3 convincingly.

The only loss came against England in August 2014 when Stuart Broad rolled over the Indian batting lineup for 152 on the first morning with figures of 6 for 25.

Their bowling stats in Test matches they have played together:

BowlerMatchesInningsWicketsAverageStrike Rate5-fors  10-fors  
Ravichandran Ashwin13248019.2746.993
Ravindra Jadeja13246416.8751.240

In 13 Test matches where these 2 spinners have bowled together, they have picked 144 wickets between them, with 13 five-fors and 3 ten-fors; that is, more than 11 wickets per Test.

What is even more astonishing is that in these 13 Test matches, there have been 10 bowlers (pacers and spinners combined) who have played alongside Ashwin and Jadeja, and they have collectively picked up 83 wickets, as compared to 144 by these 2. This can be seen in the table below:

BowlerMatchesInningsWickets5-fors10-fors
Bhuvneshwar Kumar7122120
Ishant Sharma9171400
Mohammad Shami361100
Pragyan Ojha36800
Amit Mishra24700
Umesh Yadav36600
Varun Aaron34500
Harbhajan Singh24500
Piyush Chawla12400
Pankaj Singh11200

The only bowler to have picked up a 5 wicket haul, other than Ashwin and Jadeja in the matches where these 2 have been in the playing XI, has been Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has picked up 2 recently; in the 2nd Test against New Zealand and one in the series in the West Indies not too long ago. These numbers clearly show the impact this deadly spin-duo has had on the fortunes of the Indian Test team in the last 4 years.

Also Read: 5 variations in Ravichandran Ashwin's bowling

Now, let’s have a look at their numbers when compared with some other spin bowling pairs in the world in the last 4 years; from 10 Dec 2012 which is around the time when Ravindra Jadeja made his Test debut.

I've taken a spin bowling pair each from Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Pakistan, England and Bangladesh here as these are the Test playing nations that have fielded 2 front line spinners quite consistently in their lineup.


1.) Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera:

Sri Lanka’s record in matches they played together:

MatchesWonLostDrawTiedWin %
11731963.63

Their bowling stats in matches they have played together:

BowlerMatchesInningsWicketsAverageStrike Rate5-fors10-fors
Rangana Herath11227720.7046.182
Dilruwan Perera11215427.7554.741

131 wickets in the 11 Tests they have played together.


2.) Mark Craig and Ish Sodhi:

New Zealand’s record in matches they played together:

MatchesWonLostDrawTiedWin %
6231033.33

Their bowling stats in matches they have played together:

BowlerMatchesInningsWicketsAverageStrike Rate5-fors10-fors
Mark Craig6`122343.3065.011
Ish Sodhi6121948.8173.600

42 wickets in the 6 Tests they have played together.


3.) Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman:

Pakistan’s record in matches they played together:

MatchesWonLostDrawTiedWin %
5230040.00

Their bowling stats in matches they have played together:

BowlerMatchesInningsWicketsAverageStrike Rate5-fors10-fors
Saeed Ajmal5102828.5769.221
Abdur Rehman591833.8385.400

46 wickets in the 5 Tests they have played together.


4.) Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar:

England’s record in matches they played together:

MatchesWonLostDrawTiedWin %
201100

Their bowling stats in matches they have played together:

BowlerMatchesInningsWicketsAverageStrike Rate5-fors10-fors
Graeme Swann23551.6091.200
Monty Panesar23393.00212.000

8 wickets in the 2 Tests they have played together.


5.) Shakib Al Hasan and Taijul Islam:

Bangladesh’s record in matches they played together:

MatchesWonLostDrawTiedWin %
7313042.85

Their bowling stats in matches they have played together:

BowlerMatchesInningsWicketsAverageStrike Rate5-fors10-fors
Shakib Al Hasan7122532.9259.631
Taijul Islam7122832.6059.320

53 wickets in the 7 Tests they have played together.


Looking at the overall comparison in the last 4 years:

Bowling PairTests Played TogetherTotal Wickets TakenWickets Per Test
Ashwin-Jadeja1314411.07
Herath-Perera1113111.90
Craig-Sodhi6427.00
Ajmal-Rehman5469.20
Swann-Panesar284.00
Shakib-Taijul7537.57

As we can see, it's just the Herath-Perera pair that has done marginally better than Ashwin-Jadeja but over a slightly smaller sample size. Also, what is of note is that of the 11 Tests these two have played together, 9 have been in Sri Lanka and 1 each in Sharjah and Dhaka, whereas of the 13 Tests Ashwin-Jadeja have played together, there was one in England and one in the West Indies.

Moreover, India's win% in these 13 Tests is also better than Sri Lanka's by over 20%.

The statistics above illustrate without the slightest doubt how this duo of Ashwin and Jadeja is comfortably the best spin bowling pair in the world right now, in Test cricket. There are 11 more Test matches to go in this home season for India, and one can only imagine how exceptional their already brilliant stats will be at the end of the season if they can maintain form and fitness.

Indian fans will certainly keep their fingers crossed!


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