What's the story?
Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has opened up on his most memorable scalps from his 300 Test wickets thus far. In a video interview with fielding coach R Sridhar posted on bcci.tv, the 31-year old reflected on his sensational journey in the premier format of the game. Apart from the inevitable nostalgia surrounding his maiden scalp, he also singled out the wicket of Australian opener David Warner in the 2017 Bengaluru Test as one of his favourite dismissals.
Ashwin revealed, "There have been a lot of special wickets. I will just pick a few. Probably, my first Test wicket of Darren Bravo will always be special. I have dismissed David Warner a few times. But, I would say amongst the 300 I have taken so far, the one of Warner in Bangalore on the second day morning was a very good one. Not to forget AB de Villiers' wicket in Nagpur in 2015."
The veteran added, "Kane Williamson, on four out of four, was another special trail I went on. He is not an easy batsman to dismiss. Joe Root's wicket in Mumbai when he nicked to slip and Alastair Cook in Mohali (are also among the best). As I keep talking about it, I keep getting reminded about more and more of these dismissals. But what's going to be important is looking forward to the next 18 months which can be extremely fruitful and rewarding for the team."
With the final wicket of Lahiru Gamage in the second Test against Sri Lanka at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur, Ashwin broke Australian pace legend Dennis Lillee's record to become the fastest bowler to pick up 300 scalps in the long and illustrious history of Test cricket.
The heart of the matter
When asked about the secret behind his success, Ashwin responded by alluding to his propensity to keep improving with each and every match. He utilised the opportunity to thank the support shown by skipper Virat Kohli and the team management. The star off-spinner also reserved special words of praise for Ajinkya Rahane's excellent close-in catching of those countless outside edges induced by him.
Even as Sridhar looked to test his memory by quizzing his landmark wickets in the traditional format, Ashwin was up to the challenge. He nonchalantly reeled off his milestone victims - Darren Sammy (100), Williamson (200) and Gamage (300). Aware of the significance of performing in challenging conditions away from home, the spin wizard expressed his ambition to replicate his sparkling form in the next 18 months which will see India embark on a slew of overseas tours.
Ashwin's immediate focus will be on helping India extend their dominance over Sri Lanka and seal the series in the final Test which will begin on December 2 at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.
Considering that he has been left out of India's squad for the ODI series against Sri Lanka and is likely to be overlooked for the T20I series too, Ashwin will get to spend some time away from the cut-throat nature of international cricket before boarding the plane to South Africa for the all-important Test series.
While his stranglehold over several world-class batsmen has left him with plenty of choices to choose from, Ashwin's maiden Test wicket will continue to remain a special moment for not just him but also for those who have followed his incredible journey from close quarters.