Ravichandran Ashwin can do no wrong with either bat or ball. With the bat, he can rescue the team from a difficult situation with some vital runs. With the ball, he is fast becoming a ruthless wicket-taking machine. (SCORECARD)
After an indifferent show with the ball in the Rajkot Test, Ashwin silenced his detractors by picking up his 22nd five-wicket haul in just his 41st Test match. It was his first five-wicket haul against England and with this, he has now taken a five-wicket haul against every country, barring Zimbabwe and Pakistan. Thanks to Ashwin’s efforts, India bowled out England for 255, giving them a 200-run lead. (UPDATES)
His 22nd five-wicket haul has put in the company of other bowling greats like Kapil Dev, Malcolm Marshall, Waqar Younis, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. He also went past 50 wickets in Tests in 2016. Currently, he has 52 wickets, just two behind Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath, who has 54 wickets in eight Tests. He is also the second Indian bowler to take 50-plus wickets in two consecutive years, after Harbhajan Singh who took over 50 wickets in 2001 and 2002.
After the end of day one, the offspinner had answered back at criticism that he delivered only if the pitches were tailor-made for his bowling.
“I don’t know why these jibes come back at us. Honestly it looks like a jibe (from) where you are looking at Indian wickets. It does honestly. You guys watch the game through the day and pitch is something you can definitely assess better than we do,” Ashwin had said.
Buoyed by the criticism, Ashwin was a different bowler in the Vizag Test. He had struck a vital blow on the second day when he dismissed Joe root for 53. However, his key moment was when he played upon the confusion that was seizing Ben Duckett to dismiss him for 5.
On the third morning, he had an indifferent start as he was tackled well by Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes. The duo put on a 110-run stand with both getting to their fifties. After the end of the lunch break, Ashwin was a different bowler and he had the dangerous Stokes LBW for 70 and got the wickets of Stuart Broad and James Anderson in quick succession to be on a hat-trick.
With the kind of form Ashwin is in, one cannot rule out the probability.