India vs South Africa 2019, 1st Test: Ashwin becomes joint-fastest to 350 Test wickets, equals Muralitharan
Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Sunday became the joint-fastest bowler in world cricket to reach 350 Test wickets. Ashwin achieved the feat after he clean bowled Theunis de Bruyn for 10 on the final day of the 1st Test at Visakhapatnam.
Ashwin reached the landmark in 66 Tests, thus equaling the record of Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan, who took the same number of games to reach the mark.
Among Indian bowlers, Ashwin is easily the quickest to the feat. The previous Indian record was held by Anil Kumble, who took 350 wickets in 77 Tests, while Harbhajan Singh needed 83 Tests to get there.
Ashwin’s record is all the more remarkable as he last played a Test match before the Visakhapatnam one almost a year back, against Australia during the tour Down Under.
In the first innings of the ongoing Test, Ashwin finished with 7 for 145, his 27th five-wicket haul in Tests, and 21st at home. He now stands fourth in terms of most five-fors in home Tests; Muralitharan (45), Rangana Herath (26) and Kumble (25) are the three bowlers above him.
The off-spinner has had a huge impact at Visakhapatnam. After India posted 502 for 7 in the first innings, Ashwin dismissed Aiden Markram and De Bruyn late on Day 2 to leave them reeling at 39 for 3. Even as South Africa fought back on Day 3, Ashwin got the scalps of Faf du Plessis, centurion Quinton de Kock and Vernon Philander to complete his five-for, and keep India ahead in the game.
He returned the next day to polish off the tail, and give India a crucial 71-run lead.
Following his superb return to international cricket, Ashwin was asked about how he spent his time when not part of the Indian team. He replied, “To stay away from cricket itself was very tough for me. In order to substitute, I played whatever games I got. I tried and made opportunity for myself to go and play some County cricket. I tried and played the TNPL as much as I could, played some league cricket in Chennai.
“It was very important to tick those numbers off because that is essentially where I came from. Going back and playing there is probably the best thing that could have happened.”