Vizag Test: India high on offie R Ashwin's five

Updated: Nov 20, 2016, 14:03 IST | Satish Viswanathan |

Star spinner's 22nd fifer opens up early finish in second Test against England

India's R Ashwin acknowledges the crowd after claiming 5-67 vs England at Vizag on Saturday. Pic/AFP
India's R Ashwin acknowledges the crowd after claiming 5-67 vs England at Vizag on Saturday. Pic/AFP

Visakhapatnam: When R Ashwin trapped James Anderson LBW on Saturday, he completed his 22nd five-wicket haul in 41 Tests, while Kohli ended the day unbeaten on 56. At stumps on Day Three, India were 98-3 - leading by 298 runs. Earlier, England were bowled out for 255.'

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar reckons that a five-wicket innings haul with the ball is akin to a century with the bat. By that count, Ravichandran Ashwin (5-67) is eight tons ahead of his skipper Virat Kohli despite having played nine Tests less than him. Phenomenal? You bet.

When Ashwin caught James Anderson plumb in front here on Saturday on Day Three of the second Test, he completed his 22nd five-wicket haul in his 41st Test while Kohli, who ended the day unbeaten on a fabulous 56, which in itself followed his 167 in the first innings of his 50th Test, has 14 centuries against his name.

India in command
At stumps on Day Three, India were 98-3 — leading by 298 runs — with Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane (22 not out) at the crease. Earlier, England were bowled out for 255 in reply to India's first innings total of 455.

Ashwin also joined a very illustrious list of bowlers, all fast men though unlike him, who have a similar number of five-wicket hauls. Waqar Younis, Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh have all claimed five wickets on 22 occasions but while they have all finished their careers, Ashwin is perhaps still only halfway through.

Fellow offie Muttiah Muralitharan stands at the very top there with a mind-boggling 67 five-wicket hauls from his 133 Tests and it will be interesting to see how close to that Ashwin will end up with or whether he will even surpass that by the time he calls it a day.

Making a mark with the bat
To add to his bowling prowess Ashwin has four 100s and eight fifties with the bat and on as many 32 occasions in his 41 Tests contributed either a 50 or a five-wicket haul.
Incredible. They key with Ashwin's bowling is the patience he brings to his trade. He's highly skilled no doubt but he doesn't go out there expecting to get a wicket with each ball. He realises every day is not a Sunday and that he will have it tough at times.

Take the ongoing Test for example. From his first 22.5 overs he had claimed only two wickets but then when handed the second new ball when it was only a few overs old, he returned figures of 7.5-0-14-3, ensuring in the process that England could have been asked to follow-on had Kohli chosen to.

He teased and tormented the English batsmen with his subtle change of line and length. As far as his wickets go, Ashwin first got the ball to drift in and spin away to a Ben Duckett to take the stumps out.

He then drew a settled Joe Root out only to deceive him by pushing the ball a bit wide and ensuring the lofted hit would go haywire. This was on Friday. On Saturday, he got harder second new ball to dart into the pads of a fighting Ben Stokes before cleaning up Stuart Broad and James Anderson with similar deliveries to end the England resistance. And he did all this with minimum fuss. Now a second innings with the ball on a Day Four pitch, which just happens to be a Sunday, beckons. There is Day Five too, if required.

No. of wickets claimed by off-spinner R Ashwin this year. He is only behind Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath - 54

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