In terms of number of wickets, Ravichandran Ashwin enjoyed his most successful series in his four-year Test career — 31 wickets in four games.
Ashley Mallett and Prasanna
Undoubtedly, he and Ravindra Jadeja were the scourge of the South Africans whose ability to deal with the turning ball didn't do justice to their number one Test ranking. None of the previous five Test squads to India were as brittle as Hashim Amla's men, although the adhesive ways of Amla on the fourth day and AB de Villiers on the final day of the Delhi Test yesterday gave grit a good name.
Just like Bhajji
The quality of opposition was inferior but Ashwin's 31 wickets could be remembered just like cricket fans marked down Harbhajan Singh's 32 wickets against Australia in 2001. Like then, the rich haul came against the No 1 team in the world.
Ashley Mallett (70), the former Australia off-spinner, who is a respected spin bowling coach, was glad to see currently the world's best off-spinner picking up a pile of wickets against the South Africans. Last December, the South Australian was livid to see Ashwin out of India's playing XI in the Adelaide Test.
"Traditionally, Australia have been worried by off-spin and Ashwin is a handy batsman too. Australia would have got only around 300 had Ashwin been in the side (they scored 517-7 decl in the first innings). Mind you, (Erapalli) Prasanna would have bowled them out for 80," Mallett told mid-day then. B
Back in 1969-70
Mallett is one of the few overseas spinners who enjoyed great success in India. His 28 wickets in the 1969-70 series played an important role in Australia's 3-1 triumph. "Ashwin has bowled really well against the South Africans, but he is not on the same street as Erapalli Prasanna," he remarked yesterday.
"Look at the quality of batsmen Prasanna bowled to. He was the best off-spinner of all time. He made the ball dip like no other Test bowler. There were only two bowlers who could get the ball to flutter through the air. One was Shane Warne who I didn't play against and the other was Prasanna," Mallett added.