The R Ashwin versus Steve Smith battle has been one of the highlights of the 2020-21 edition of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The ace Indian off-spinner has dismissed the Aussie batsman on two occasions apart from keeping him in a bind with his bag of tricks.
While Ashwin has had the upper hand in the battle between the duo in the ongoing series, it has not always been the case. Steve Smith has lost his wicket to the lanky off-spinner just five times in the eleven Test matches they have played against each other.
The unconventional right-handed batsman has scored 352 runs against Ashwin in these eleven Tests, thereby having a healthy overall average of 70.40 against him.
With that context, let us have a look at the five times R Ashwin has got the better of Steve Smith in Test cricket.
Steve Smith's five dismissals against R Ashwin in Test cricket
#1: Caught at short-leg at Delhi in March 2013
R Ashwin and Steve Smith faced each other for the first time when Australia toured India in 2013. Smith was part of the Aussie playing XI only in the last two Test matches of the series.
The off-spinner failed to dismiss Smith in the first Test at Mohali. But in the first innings of the final Test of the series at Delhi, Ashwin had the Australian get a sharp inside-edge to Ajinkya Rahane at short-leg.
That was the only time R Ashwin dismissed Smith in that series, with the latter scoring 39 runs against him.
#2: Caught at mid-wicket at Pune in February 2017
After the 2013 series, R Ashwin and Steve Smith faced each other in three Test matches of India's return tour to Australia in 2014-15. The Australian run-machine dominated the Indian spin wizard in the series as he scored 177 runs against him without being dismissed.
Ashwin finally succeeded in getting Smith's wicket at Pune in the first Test of Australia's tour to India in 2017. In the first inning of the match, the Australian skipper at the time played a flick straight into the hands of his counterpart Virat Kohli positioned at mid-wicket at an individual score of 27.
But Smith had the final laugh in the Test match as he played a majestic 109-run knock in the second innings to help Australia crush the Indians by 333 runs.
#3: Caught at slip at Dharamsala in March 2017
Post the Pune Test, R Ashwin could not get the better of Steve Smith in the next two matches at Bengaluru and Ranchi. He got rid of the latter for the third time in his career in the first innings of the final Test of the series at Dharamsala.
Smith was caught by Ajinkya Rahane at first slip with Ashwin getting the outside-edge with a straighter one after the former had smashed 111 runs. This was the last Test match the duo has played against each other on Indian soil.
Overall in the series, Steve Smith had the upper hand on R Ashwin as he amassed 132 runs against the latter while being dismissed just twice.
#4: Caught at slip at Adelaide in December 2020
R Ashwin got rid of Steve Smith in almost a replica of his dismissal at Dharamsala in the first Test of the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy at Adelaide. While the previous one was with Ashwin bowling round the wicket, this was with the conventional over the wicket angle.
The off-spinner got the ball to straighten again to get Smith's outside-edge which was safely pouched by Ajinkya Rahane at first slip. Ashwin and the other Indian bowlers had kept Smith under a tight leash in this innings as he scored just a solitary run in the 29 deliveries he faced.
#5: Caught at leg gully at Melbourne in December 2020
Steve Smith's final dismissal to date against R Ashwin came in the first innings of the recently concluded Boxing Day Test. The wily off-spinner had the prolific Australian caught by Cheteshwar Pujara at leg gully while trying to glance the ball to fine-leg.
The ICC Test cricketer of the Decade failed to open his account in the innings. Although Smith was bowled round his legs by Jasprit Bumrah in the second innings of the same Test match, the pressure applied by R Ashwin from the other end had certainly contributed to the dismissal.
Steve Smith had enjoyed great success against R Ashwin in the first eight Test matches they played against each other, the latter dismissing him only twice.
But the off-spinner getting rid of the Aussie batting mainstay in each of the last three Test matches they have faced each other has added spice to the rivalry. The upcoming Sydney Test between the two nations will give avid cricket followers another chance to enjoy the rivalry between two of the modern-day greats of the game.
Published 01 Jan 2021, 08:07 IST