Ravichandran Ashwin has been the beacon of Indian bowling, ever since his debut and particularly in Test cricket. His Test debut, against West Indies on 6 November 2011 in Delhi, was marked by picking nine wickets and winning the Man of the Match award. This performance lead many followers of the game to believe that Ashwin had all the earmarks of a genuine great, and he has proved that time and again in the five years since. It was just another day for Ashwin on Sunday when he dismissed New Zealand captain Kane Williamson to claim his 200th Test wicket – the fastest Indian and the second fastest in the world, beating Dennis Lillee and Waqar Younis’ record. The record is still held by Australian spinner Clarrie Grimmett, and Ashwin took only one more Test to achieve the milestone.
Ashwin is the quickest Asian bowler to take 200 Test wickets. He is also the ninth Indian bowler to reach the milestone, but there is no one close to him in terms of the time taken to achieve it. Anil Kumble took nine more Tests to complete his 200 Test wickets, while Harbhajan Singh took 10 more Tests. This gap is a good indication of the value of Ashwin among Indian bowlers.
Note: Wickets and Balls shown in the table are of at the end of Test in which the bowler took 200th Test wicket
Australian spinner Stuart MacGill held the record for least number of deliveries to take 200 wickets among spinners in Tests till Thursday, but Ashwin has broken that record as well. Ashwin has bowled 10407 balls, while Stuart MacGill had bowled 10511 balls at the end of the match in which they had taken their 200th Test wicket. Among Indian spinners, Harbhajan Singh is at the second place with 12640 balls while Anil Kumble had delivered 14300 balls.
Ravichandran Ashwin has claimed 19 five-wicket hauls in his 37 matches, which is the second most by a spinner after playing 37 Tests. Clarrie Grimmett tops that list with 21 five-wicket hauls, while three of the top-wicket takers in Test cricket – Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble – had taken 13, nine and nine five-wicket hauls respectively after playing 37 games. If we include pacers then Ashwin is third on that list with Waqar Younis, and after Sydney Barnes (27) and Clarrie Grimmett (21).
Ashwin's bowling average in Tests in Asia is 20.59, which is the second best among the 25 bowlers who have taken at least 100 wickets in Asia. Only Pakistan’s legend Imran Khan's average of 20.28 is better than the Indians.
In terms of strike rate, Ashwin is at the second place in the list of bowlers. He has taken 162 wickets from 37 Tests with a strike rate of 43.9. Only Waqar Younis is ahead of him, with a strike rate of 38.2.
When it comes to spinners who have taken at least 150 wickets in Tests, he is at the first place with a bowling strike rate of 51.2, taking 203 wickets from 37 Tests for India. Stuart MacGill is second with a strike rate of 54.0.
An interesting record that Ashwin holds is that he has claimed a five-wicket haul after every 1.95(=2) match. Subhash Gupte, who played 36 Tests, had picked up a five-wicket haul after every three Tests, to be second on that list.
The most amazing fact in the list of fastest Indians for milestone wickets is that there are only two players in this list. The first four places are all Ravichandran Ashwin, and the other seven are filled with Anil Kumble’s name. With the next 12 Tests to be played at home, there is a chance for Ashwin to occupy more places on the above list and maybe become the fastest Indian to take 250 and 300 Test wickets. The onus will be now be on him to break these two records as well, after an impressive start to the season.