Indian cricket team is going through a golden phase and the one man army Ravichandran Ashwin corners glory as an all-rounder and make the matter move in favour of the team. This reminds me of Srinivasan Venkatraghavan, an off spinner of yesteryear from Tamil Nadu, who made his presence felt with heroics with both bat and ball in the Golden Year of Indian cricket in 1971. He did well to contain Gary Sobers and company in the Caribbean Island and mastered the art of spin on English wickets. In all he claimed 35 wickets in the two series and his contribution with the bat came handy during the crucial stages of test series overseas. Ashwin did good job in Sri Lanka and played a stellar role in West Indies winning Man of the series in both the outings away from India. He could dictate terms to the Kiwi side with a bag of 27 wickets which tilted the scales for Team India with a clean sweep. Presently he is performing well against a thoroughly professional side with such a stretch of imagination as the Indian team can play the fifth bowler in a test match situation to claim all the 20 wickets of the opposition.
In the year 2016, Ashwin averages 46.60 from 10 Test innings with his bat and that includes two fifties and two centuries, and has scored more runs and has a better average than Murali Vijay (37), the Indian opening batsman and a prolific run getter in this form of the game. Ashwin was promoted by Virat Kohli alongside wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha for the first time, and the all-rounder responded with a century. It reflects the patient side of Ashwin, as he faced 253 balls and it was the turning point of the match. He repeated this two matches later as he strode out to the middle with the team’s score of 87/4, and scored 118 in testing times. Ashwin was named the man-of-the-match, primarily for his batting.
He carried this form forward in the first Test at Rajkot, when England piled on 537 in the first innings. India were in a tricky position at 349/5 when Ajinkya Rahane got out and it became worse when Kohli followed three overs later. Ashwin again came to the rescue with a gritty 70, despite just having bowled 46 overs with the ball. He scored 59 of the next 127 runs, along with the lower middle-order, to make sure India kept the lead down to just 49. It was a match saving performance with the bat after he failed with the ball this time. In the second innings, the hosts were again in a spot of bother, when they were reduced to 68/3 in the final session. They needed someone to partner skipper Kohli, and Ashwin was again the man of the hour, adding 47 valuable runs. In all he consumed over 30 overs and scored 103 runs in all and provided fruitful partnerships with the tail and skipper Kohli to present a draw. Ashwin was an enigma on the field and at Vizakhapatnam, he hit his 8th Test fifty of his illustrious career and finished England’s innings with yet another five wicket haul, the 22nd of his clever and penetrative bowling. He is indeed a very special player in Indian cricket.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)