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Ashwin and the 2000-200 club

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Ravichandran_Ashwin_India_cricketRavichandran Ashwin. Not many regarded him as an all-rounder when he started playing for India. Perhaps even now, when Jadeja and Pandya are deemed to be all-rounders, Ashwin’s name does not immediately bring the word all-rounder to mind. Or maybe I am wrong. 

But if you realise that he has joined the big league, comprising of Ian Botham, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev and Richard Hadlee, and pushed the Kiwi down the list to number five, you at once realise that if there was an authentic all-rounder in India in the recent past, it was Ravichandran Ashwin. 

The league I am referring to is that of Test cricketers who were the quickest to reach the double of 2000 runs and 200 wickets. 

Right on top of the list is the name of Sir Ian Terence Botham, who got to the double in 42 Tests. Next come Kapil Dev and Imran Khan, both of whom got to that milestone in 50 Tests. Ashwin follows with 51 Tests, and Sir Richard Hadlee with 54 Tests. 

Ian Botham, who ended his Test career with 5200 runs and 383 wickets, got his 200th Test wicket against India in the 1981-82 Test series, when he scalped Sandeep Patil in Mumbai. Kapil Dev Nikhanj (5248 runs and 434 wickets) bagged Gus Logie as his 200th Test victim at the Sabina Park Kingston a year after Botham got there. Maninder Singh of India was the 200th victim of Imran Khan Niazi at Karachi. Imran finished his Test career with 3807 runs and 362 wickets.  

 

Then comes Ashwin… Ish Sodhi of New Zealand was his 200th scalp, bagged at Green Park in Kanpur. At the time of writing, Ashwin has bagged 286 Test wickets and 2004 runs. Richard Hadlee with 3124 runs and 431 wickets to his name, got his 200th wicket when he dismissed Norman Cowans of England at Trent Bridge in Nottingham.

 

Ashwin got his 2000th run against the Lankans, at Galle on the 4th of August 2017. Among the other four, evidently, it was Botham who got there first. It was in 1981 at the Wankhede Stadium when he scored 16 of the 29 runs he mustered in the second innings of the Test match. Imran and Kapil got there in 1983 – the former against the Aussies at the MCG and the latter at Sabina Park against the West Indians. Richard Hadlee scored his 2000th run in 1985 at the Queen’s Park Oval against the West Indians, when he ran the 31st of the 39 runs he scored in the second innings of the Test match.

Four of these five were pacemen in their playing days, and Ashwin is the exception – an off-spinner. Of the five, there are two Indians, one Kiwi, one Pakistani and one Englishman. 

Like some high achievers, he has capitalized on avoiding the star status often conferred upon many others. Glamour can never be associated with Ashwin the cricketer.

With him, it has been a case of conquering silently and, before anyone realises it, rising to the top. Ashwin’s rise has not really been slow and steady. It has been spectacular, but yet somehow been a ‘routine thing’ – the touch of genius. 

 

The good thing is that he is a slow bowler and thereby can play well into his late 30s…that gives him ample time to muster more and more runs as well, while aiming for the seemingly unreachable targets set by Anil Kumble, Shane Warne and Mutthaiah Muralitharan. 

 

His batting exploits have gotten more and more marked over time, and being asked to bat ahead of the specialist wicketkeeper batsman, and all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja, means a great deal…that is a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. This promotion happened when Anil Kumble was coach…and Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli have retained that change, to good effect.

Ashwin’s next milestone will be the 3000 runs-300 wickets combo, and the cricketers who have gotten there already are Shane Warne (3154 runs, 708 wickets), Kapil Dev (5248, 434), Richard Hadlee (3124, 431), Shaun Pollock (3781, 421), Ian Botham (5200, 383), Imran Khan (3807, 362), Chaminda Vaas (3089, 355) and Daniel Vettori (4531, 362).Two Kiwis, one Indian, one South African, one Sri Lankan, one Pakistani, one Aussie and one Englishman.

 

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G Venkatesh (born 1972) is a senior lecturer in Energy and Environment, at Karlstad University in S...

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