R Ashwin breaks Dennis Lillee's record to become quickest to 300 Test wickets

Updated: Nov 28, 2017, 10:18 IST | Ankur Dhawan | Nagpur

The last time India toured South Africa, Ravichandran Ashwin was held responsible for not being able to bowl India to victory on a fifth day pitch in Johannesburg that got better to bat on instead of deteriorating

The last time India toured South Africa, Ravichandran Ashwin was held responsible for not being able to bowl India to victory on a fifth day pitch in Johannesburg that got better to bat on instead of deteriorating. As a consequence, he was left out for the next six Tests as India's fortunes continued to fluctuate before blowing up in Manchester. He was also omitted from the side that nearly pulled off an improbable heist in Adelaide, for Karn Sharma. When that cycle of overseas tours came to a close in Sydney, the off-spinner had 119 wickets in 24 Tests, averaging in excess of 30.

Zoom back into the present and his career has seen a meteoric rise, evidenced by the fact that he became the bowler quickest to 300 wickets, here in Nagpur. He achieved the feat in 54 Tests, bettering Australian pace legend Dennis Lillee by two matches. His average over this two-year period, during which he has played 30 Tests has seen a dramatic drop to a shade over 21. It is evident that Ashwin is not the same bowler he was two years ago. This metamorphosis began to take shape on the tour of Sri Lanka in 2015, where he took 21 wickets. While naysayers argued that conditions in Sri Lanka were hardly alien to the spinner, it was forgotten that Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh had far from impressive records in the island nation. Now, as the second cycle of overseas tours looms for this group of Indian players, Ashwin has a wealth of experience.

While one is tempted to draw a parallel with Kumble, who tasted greater success on tours in the latter part of his career, there is one notable difference: Kumble developed more variations like the googly to reinvent himself, as opposed to Ashwin, who always had the tricks, but has learned to rely on the subtler art of patience as his primary weapon.

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