R Ashwin wins Best Player in Team Sports award at India Sports Honours
Mithali Raj won the award in the female category.
What's the story?
Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin won the Best Player in Teamsports award at the inaugural edition of the India Sports Honours for his consistent performances during the course of the year.
Ashwin beat the likes of kabaddi player Pardeep Narwal, Indian national football team captain Sunil Chhetri and Indian hockey star Rupinder Pal Singh, as well as fellow teammates Cheteshwar Pujara and Hardik Pandya to bag the prestigious award.
Adding to the delight of Indian cricket fans, Mithali Raj, the skipper of the Indian Women's Team that made it to the final of the 2017 World Cup, won the Best Sportswoman in TeamSport award, while she also collected the award for Team of the Year on her side's behalf.
In case you didn't know....
The Indian Sports Honours was launched jointly by Indian skipper Virat Kohli and business tycoon Sanjeev Goenka with the idea of honouring sportsmen and women who brought glory to the nation.
The jury for the inaugural edition was headed by badminton legend Pullela Gopichand and with Kohli ruling himself out of contention from the awards owing to his association with the project, Ashwin was the frontrunner for the award and rightly bagged the prize.
Ashwin, the reigning ICC Cricketer of the Year, has carried forward his form to 2017 and is a strong contender to retain the award he won last year.
While he has not been able to bag any Man of the Series awards unlike last year, he has still been India's best bowler by far in the Test format, picking up 21 wickets in the 4-match Test series against Australia and 18 wickets in the three-match Test series against Sri Lanka.
He also bagged 6 wickets in the one-off Test against Bangladesh held in February. His performances in the ODI format has dipped though picking just 8 wickets from as many matches and he presently finds himself out of the side in the limited overs formats behind the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
Ashwin, who was overlooked for the limited-overs formats for the series against Australia and New Zealand, will have a chance to impress the selectors in his favourite format with the three-match Test series beginning against Sri Lanka on Thursday.
The Test series will be followed by a 3-match ODI and 3-match T20I series before India heads to South Africa for their next away assignment.
Ashwin has been on a roll in the Test format for a long time and is moving towards the 300-wicket mark in record time. He is too good a bowler to be on the sidelines in the limited-overs formats and he will be determined to make a strong case for selection with some fine performances in the Test series against Sri Lanka.
It is a thoroughly deserving award considering the kind of impact he makes in the Test format and he is undoubtedly India's premier matchwinner with the ball.