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Top 3 bowling spells of Ravichandran Ashwin outside the subcontinent

R Ashwin had a decent tour of Australia in 2018
R Ashwin had a decent tour of Australia in 2018

Ravichandran Ashwin has manifested into Indian skipper Virat Kohli's go-to man in the longest format of the game, and it is not without reason that he has been included in the Test team of the last decade listed out by veteran cricketers and most pundits of the game.

Ashwin picked up 564 wickets in the last decade and owing to his performances, has attained a talismanic status amongst the fans of Test Cricket and it would be a travesty of justice to deny his contributions in India's ascent to the pinnacle of the ICC Test rankings.

Despite his staggering numbers, a criticism that is directed towards Ashwin is his ineffectiveness outside the subcontinent, specifically in Australia, England and South Africa, where the conditions tend to favour the pace bowlers a lot more.

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While Ashwin has a staggering record at home, having picked up 254 wickets at a meagre average of 22.8, his strike rate and average appear on the higher side when considering his away record.

He has picked up only 108 wickets outside India, at an average of 31.40. When taking into account only performances in Australia, England and South Africa, the numbers take a further beating.

In 15 matches in these three countries, Ashwin has picked up 48 wickets at an average of 43.37. This discrepancy between his home and away records has given rise to criticism that Ashwin is effective only in home conditions.

However, that is not entirely true. To his credit, Ashwin has had some notable performances outside the subcontinent as well and in this article, we take a look at three of Ashwin's best bowling performances outside Asia.


#1 4/113 against South Africa at Centurion (2018)

R Ashwin celebrates the fall of a wicket
R Ashwin celebrates the fall of a wicket

After going wicketless in his previous tour of South Africa in 2013, Ashwin superbly turned the tide in his favour in his next tour in 2018. In the first innings of the second Test match of the three-match series at Centurion, Ashwin rattled the South African batting line up with his clever variations.

On a pitch where the pacers were expected to rule the roost, Ashwin with his guile and precision, managed to make a mark. As the openers Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram were cruising along, skipper Kohli turned to his trusted man to do the job and Ashwin didn't disappoint.

On seeing Elgar jump out of his crease, Ashwin cleverly shortened the length and enticed the batsman to loft it up, thus bringing about India's first wicket. Markram was next to follow, the right-hander cheated to poke at a widish delivery, undone by the angle from Ashwin.

The off-spinner then cleaned cleaned up Quinton de Kock for a golden duck before he picked up the scalp of Morne Morkel to finish with a memorable 4-wicket haul.

Though India eventually lost the match by 135 runs, Ashwin's top spell on a tough pitch left a statement that he wasn't a subcontinental specialist and that he could pick wickets on bouncy tracks as well.

#2 4/62 v England at Edgbaston (2018)

Cook is captured castled by R Ashwin
Cook is captured castled by R Ashwin

In the first Test of India's tour of England in 2018, Ravi Ashwin proved his credentials yet again, in the very first innings of the match. Having been asked to field first by Joe Root, Indian skipper Virat Kohli introduced spin early in the game as he brought on Ashwin and the experienced spinner did not disappoint.

In his very second over, Ashwin castled Alastair Cook with an absolute peach of a delivery. There was drift, loop, grip and turn in that delivery as the ball just about went past Cook's attempted defence and dislodged the bails.

Such a dismissal is a magical sight for any spinner and Cook was left stunned. Ashwin then went on to remove Jos Buttler for a two-ball duck before he pouched a return catch off Ben Stokes to expose the lower order early in the game. He then returned to trap Stuart Broad in front for his fourth wicket, post which Mohammed Shami picked up the final wicket that saw England finish with just 287 on the board.

In the second innings, Ashwin demonstrated an action replay of the first innings wicket of Cook, dismissing him in exactly the same fashion. However, despite Ashwin's heroics, India fell short by 31 runs and went on to concede a 1-0 lead to England.

#3 3/57 against Australia in Adelaide (2018)

Ashwin and Virat Kohli celebrate the fall of a wicket
Ashwin and Virat Kohli celebrate the fall of a wicket

In what would remain India's most memorable Test series victory of all time, Ravichandran Ashwin played a pivotal role in India's victory in the first Test match in Adelaide, helping Kohli's men to take 1-0 lead.

In Australia's first innings, Ashwin penetrated through the hosts' middle order to ensure that the Aussies were crippled beyond redemption. As a steady partnership was being built between Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja, Ashwin bowled an in-drifter to Harris that found the batsman wanting, as Harris offered a simple catch to silly point.

Ashwin then castled Shaun Marsh and induced an edge off Khawaja's bat that was safely accepted by Rishabh Pant. The delivery to dismiss Khawaja, in particular, was an absolute ripper as Ashwin got the ball to kick off the pitch and ensured that Khawaja got a faint edge that was gobbled up by Pant.

In the 4th innings of the match, Ashwin picked up yet another 3-wicket haul to ensure India's victory. As the final wicket partnership stretched the game and delayed the inevitable, Kohli decided to persist with Ashwin, who went wicketless for more than 30 overs on the final day.

Ashwin was rewarded for his perseverance, as the final man Josh Hazlewood edged the ball to KL Rahul in the slip cordon that finally brought an end to a stiff resistance worth 32 runs between Nathan Lyon and Hazlewood, handing India a thrilling 31-run win.

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Edited by Prasen Moudgal
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