India vs South Africa: Ravichandran Ashwin needs to carry subcontinental form overseas to establish greatness

Ravichandran Ashwin might have basked in glory back home, but it is wickets in challenging conditions such as South Africa that will establish him as a great.

Amit Banerjee, Jan,02 2018

As India prepare for one of their toughest assignments in years, it is time for a certain off-spinner to return to prominence. Ravichandran Ashwin has been something of a talisman for India for about four years now, stamping his authority on the ground especially with the red ball in hand. The kind of impact that he has made, especially in the recent years, has made him indispensable in the Test team.

File image of Ravichandran Ashwin. Reuters

File image of Ravichandran Ashwin. Reuters

After charting a steady rise with the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League (IPL), it was during the 2012-13 edition of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy when he really shot to fame, finishing as the top wicket-taker (29 at an average of 20) as the Indians swept the series 4-0. He continued the carnage on home soil against the West Indians later that year, finishing at the top wicket-taker once again.

The last two years, starting from the 2015 home Test series against South Africa, have been especially rewarding for the Tamil Nadu off-spinner. Collecting wickets in heaps against teams such as West Indies, New Zealand and England, he bagged the 'ICC Cricketer of the Year Award' for the year 2016, coming at a time when he was at the peak of his prowess.

The bygone year saw him notch up one milestone after another — as he became the fastest to 250 as well as 300 wickets, beating Australia pace legend Dennis Lillee's records on both occasions. The second one occurred during the second Test against Sri Lanka in Nagpur, in which he dismissed Lahiru Gamage with a carom ball to seal an innings and 239-run win for the hosts.

However, the bigger challenge lies ahead for Ashwin as he prepares to practice his trade on surfaces that traditionally are not known to assist spinners. While he made full use of the rank turners in the subcontinental conditions to progress from 200 to 300 Test wickets in a couple of giant strides, it will be a completely different ballgame once he lands in Cape Town.


For starters, a green top is what is expected at the Newlands, the venue where the first Test will be played between 5-9 January. As mentioned earlier in this series of profiles, a toss-up between Ashwin and left-arm orthodox spinner Ravindra Jadeja is more than likely come Friday.

Ashwin is yet to grab a Test wicket in South Africa, having conceded 108 runs at Johannesburg in the first Test of the 2013-14 tour without any success. Given the glory that he has basked in in recent times, writing a new chapter in the country that hasn't quite been very hospitable to him will be on top of his mind. He might be a sensation back home, but wickets on conditions such as these are what will help in establishing him as a great of the modern-day game.

Click here to read profiles of other Indian players involved in the Test series against South Africa

Click here for the full schedule of India's tour to South Africa, when and where to watch the matches, live coverage on TV, online streaming

Published Date: Jan 02, 2018 | Updated Date: Jan 02, 2018

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4969 124
2 South Africa 3888 111
3 Australia 4174 104
4 New Zealand 3489 100
5 England 4829 99
6 Sri Lanka 4058 94
Rank Team Points Rating
1 South Africa 6386 120
2 India 6680 119
3 England 6320 115
4 New Zealand 6404 114
5 Australia 6012 113
6 Pakistan 4811 96
Rank Team Points Rating
1 New Zealand 2262 126
2 Pakistan 2843 124
3 India 3385 121
4 England 2029 119
5 West Indies 2538 115
6 South Africa 2238 112