Fanboy Ravichandran Ashwin unwilling to surpass Anil Kumble's feat
What's the story?
Ravichandran Ashwin may be on the sidelines as far as the limited-overs format is concerned for India, but he remains the leading spinner in the Test format and is hopeful of an extended career in the whites.
Ashwin said that he will be looking to take as many wickets as possible for India in the five-day format, but added that he would restrain himself from overtaking his idol Anil Kumble's tally of 619 Test wickets.
“I am a big fan of Anil Kumble and he has got 619 wickets. If I get to 618 wickets, I will be very thankful too and, and if I get to 618, that will be my last Test match,” Ashwin was quoted as saying by Gulf News on Thursday.
Ashwin also paid tribute to Sri Lankan veteran Rangana Herath whom he described as one of his role-models.
“I think he (Herath) is a fabulous bowler. He just overcomes limitations every single day. Age does wear the body out over a period of time. As far as Herath is concerned, he just keeps proving that he is a champion cricketer and can use pressure to his advantage," Ashwin said.
In case you didn't know...
Kumble is India's leading wicket-taker in Test history and the third highest wicket-taker in the world behind Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan and Australia's Shane Warne.
Like many other Indian spinners, Ashwin grew up idolising Kumble and also got the opportunity to work with him when the latter took up the position of Indian head coach in 2016.
Kumble may have left the post in acrimonious circumstances following a difference of opinion with skipper Virat Kohli, but Ashwin's respect for the former Indian leg-spinner is still very much intact.
The heart of the matter
Ashwin currently has 292 Test wickets to his name from 52 Tests and is an invaluable asset for India in the five-day format.
With as many as seven Man of the Series awards to his credit, Ashwin is pretty much India's primary match-winner in Test cricket and is hopeful that he can come close to Kumble's tally by the time he bids adieu, but feels that it would be unfair to cross the legendary spinner's feat.
As far as his non-selection in India's previous three ODI squads is concerned, Ashwin said it was something for the Indian selectors to decide on and is focussed solely on improving his personal game and preparing for any challenge when called upon.
Having been overlooked for India's upcoming ODI series against New Zealand, Ashwin will be channeling his efforts for the Test series against South Africa towards the end of the year.
Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have done a wonderful job in the limited-overs format, displacing Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja from the squad, but the duo are certain to make a comeback when India make their return to the Test format.
Despite his shortcomings in the limited-overs format, Ashwin is undoubtedly a match-winner when it comes to the longer format of the game.
His numbers are impressive, to say the least, and he is well on his way to establishing himself as one of India's greatest spinners in history.
The spin-friendly pitches in India are expected to aid his return no doubt but Kumble's wicket-tally is quite far away and Ashwin has to keep improvising if he hopes to catch up with Kumble.