Ravichandran Ashwin crossed the latest milestone in his illustrious career on Thursday, becoming the 16th player to take 400 Test wickets.
He has gotten to the 400 mark quicker than anyone but Muttiah Muralitharan in terms of Tests played - and given the Sri Lankan finished his career with the most Test wickets of any bowler in history, there’s no shame in that.
Here, we look back on his journey to 400 Test wickets and the incredible numbers he has produced along the way.
THE ROAD TO 400
Ashwin’s road to the 400 Test wicket club started in Delhi in November 2011.
Picked to make his debut in an inexperienced Indian attack, Ashwin took to Test cricket like a duck to water. The beguiling offie helped himself to nine wickets for the game and became just the third Indian to ever be named player-of-the-match on Test debut.
The fast start showed no signs of slowing down through Ashwin’s early days in Test cricket. Just two years and eight days after rocking the West Indies on debut, he took his 100th Test wicket in his 18th match. Fittingly, the opposition were once again the West Indies and he had reached the landmark in fewer Tests than any Indian in history. Only four players globally had taken 100 Test wickets in fewer matches.
Nineteen Tests later, Ashwin had his 200th wicket and in match 54 he had his 300th. Not only had nobody gotten there in fewer Tests, Ashwin managed to better Dennis Lillee’s record by two matches. It remains the record.
Ashwin’s 400th wicket came at Ahmedabad in his 77th Test. Only Muralitharan got to 400 Test wickets quicker, getting there in his 72nd match.
Fewest Tests to 100 Test wickets
16 Tests - George Lohmann
17 Tests - Charlie Turner, Sydney Barnes, Clarrie Grimmett, Yasir Shah
18 Tests - Ravichandran Ashwin
Fewest Tests to 200 Test wickets
33 Tests - Yasir Shah
36 Tests - Clarrie Grimmett
37 Tests - Ravichandran Ashwin
Fewest Tests to 300 Test wickets
54 Tests - Ravichandran Ashwin
56 Tests - Dennis Lillee
58 Tests - Muttiah Muralitharan
Fewest Tests to 400 Test wickets
72 Tests - Muttiah Muralitharan
77 Tests - Ravichandran Ashwin
80 Tests - Dale Steyn, Richard Hadlee
TOP OF THE TEST CHARTS SINCE DEBUT
Nobody in world cricket has taken more Test wickets than Ashwin since he burst onto the scene in 2011.
While Nathan Lyon is a not too distant second, with 391 wickets, the Australian has played 20 more Tests than Ashwin’s 77 in that time.
The Indian spinner has been every bit a match-winner since his debut, with his 29 five-wicket hauls the most of any bowler in this period, one more than Rangana Herath (28). The Sri Lankan is the only bowler to have registered more 10-wicket matches since Ashwin came onto the scene, with nine to the Indian’s seven.
Most Test wickets since Ashwin's debut
Ravichandran Ashwin - 401 wickets at 24.95 - 77 Tests
Nathan Lyon - 391 wickets at 32.02 - 97 Tests
Stuart Broad - 385 wickets at 26.24 - 105 Tests
James Anderson - 371 wickets at 23.90 - 96 Tests
Rangana Herath - 323 wickets at 25.73 - 61 Tests
Ashwin’s astonishing tally of five-wicket hauls is not just impressive in comparison to his contemporaries, but historically. He already sits seventh for the most five-wicket hauls in Test history, with one fewer than James Anderson’s 30.
While Muralitharan’s world record of 67 may be out of reach, Shane Warne’s spot at second, with 37 five-wicket hauls, could very well be at risk.
Ashwin is also sixth for the most 10-wicket Tests, with seven to his name. He will be hoping to become just the third bowler to ever reach 10 10-wicket Tests before he calls it a day, following in the footsteps of Warne (10) and Muralitharan (22).
INCREDIBLE DOMINANCE IN INDIA
Few teams have ever been as difficult to face in their own conditions as India in recent years.
That dominance is in no small part down to Ashwin, who is on track to be the most successful Test bowler in India ever.
The 34-year-old went past Harbhajan Singh to be the second greatest Test wicket-taker on Indian soil during the second match against England at Chennai.
He has now taken 278 wickets at 22.19 on home soil across 46 Tests.
The only man who has taken more Test wickets in India is Anil Kumble, whose 350 came across 63 matches at an average of 24.88.
Harbhajan’s 265 came across 55 Tests at an average of 28.76.
Ashwin is also second to Kumble for five-wicket hauls in India – 23 to 25 – and 10-wicket matches – six to seven.
Most Test wickets in India
Anil Kumble - 350
Ravichandran Ashwin - 278
Harbhajan Singh - 265
Kapil Dev - 219
Ravindra Jadeja - 157
AND HE CAN BAT TOO
Ashwin joined what is an exclusively all-Indian club when he claimed his 400th Test wicket.
He is one of only two men to have both taken 400 Tests wickets and scored five Test centuries. The other, of course, is Kapil Dev, who scored eight centuries alongside his 434 wickets.
Wasim Akram (three centuries, 414 wickets), Richard Hadlee (two centuries, 431 wickets), Harbhajan Singh (two centuries, 417 wickets) and Shaun Pollock (two centuries, 421 wickets) are the only other bowlers to have taken 400 Test wickets and scored more than one century
400 Test wicket takers with the most centuries
Kapil Dev - Eight
Ravichandran Ashwin - five
Wasim Akram - three
Richard Hadlee - two
Harbhajan Singh - two
Shaun Pollock - two
Stuart Broad - one
Anil Kumble - one
SECOND TO BOTHAM
The first of Ashwin’s five hundreds came in just his third Test as he made 103 against the West Indies in Mumbai.
He also took 5/156 in the West Indies’ first innings that match.
It was only the 27th time a player had pulled off the double of a five-wicket haul and a century in men’s Test cricket. It is a feat that has only been achieved six times since and on two of those occasions, Ashwin has been the man responsible.
Ashwin’s tally of three Tests with a century and a five-wicket innings is bettered only by England’s Ian Botham, who managed it five times.
The Indian all-rounder pulled it off for the third time in Chennai in the second Test against England, scoring his first century since 2016. He will be hoping it is the start of a hot-streak with the bat, opening the possibility of matching Botham’s record.
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