Ravichandran Ashwin became the fastest to get to 250 Test wickets on Sunday when he removed Bangladesh captain and centurion Mushfiqur Rahim just before lunch in the one-off match. (UPDATES)
Ashwin reached the milestone in his 45th Test, three less than former Australia fast bowler Dennis Lillee (48). (SCORECARD)
The India off-spinner was two short of the mark going into the Test, and had to grind it out to get there.
He returned figures of two for 98 in 28.5 overs in the first innings, arguably his worst spell in the subcontinent since June 2015, after his 1/151 in Chennai and 2/167 in Rajkot against England earlier this season. All these expensive spells came in the first innings when the surface was not conducive for spin bowling.
“It was a delight to bowl in the second innings. I was a little rusty in the first innings, got into a better rhythm in the second innings straightaway, bowling with the new ball,” Ashwin said after the fourth day’s play. “Good to have the record out of the way.”
His 249th wicket, on Saturday, was more a result of rush of blood from all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan. The left-hander stepped out and tried to hoist over mid-on, but failed to clear it to offer a catch to Umesh Yadav.
Ashwin’s 250th scalp came when Mushfiqur failed to control a sweep, edging it to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.
Ahead of the game, Ashwin had said he enjoys bowling on the Hyderabad pitch. “It has a lush green outfield and it is a big ground for a spinner. You can toss the ball a little bit more. There is a bit of hold and bounce in the wicket, so it gives you allowance to try and be imaginative. I enjoy bowling here,” he had said.
The Bangladesh batsmen too were more enterprising. When he tossed it up, Shakib and Mushfiqur jumped out and hit him to the fence.
He was in better control in the Bangladesh second innings. He picked the wickets of Soumya Sarkar and Mominul Haque with deliveries that they failed to keep down.
Teammate Cheteshwar Pujara hailed him as a thinking bowler. “The kind of brain he has, he thinks as a batsman, what are the weaknesses of a batsman and what are the areas he needs to bowl.”
Ashwin became the sixth Indian bowler to reach the 250-wicket mark, joining Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Bishan Bedi.
Ashwin has had a stellar 16 months. He became the second fastest to reach 200 wickets, against New Zealand at Kanpur last September. Only Australian Clarrie Grimmett, a pre-World War II bowler, had reached the milestone faster.
He was in the middle of a phenomenal run that saw him take over a 100 wickets in just over a year. His performances, which included some fine innings as well, saw him win the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year and the ICC Cricketer of the Year awards.
Before the Bangladesh Test, Ashwin had taken 103 wickets in 17 matches since the 2015 tour by South Africa. His performance in that series was overshadowed by criticism that the pitches were too spinner-friendly, but has continued the good work in subsequent series on pitches much better for batting.
He took 27 in the three-Test series against New Zealand, and 28 in the five-match series against England. The performances came after he took 17 wickets in effectively three Tests in the West Indies.