Ravichandran Ashwin is a household name in Indian cricket and is the most vital cog of Team India’s bowling unit. Ranked #1 in the ICC Test Bowlers rankings, Ashwin’s record in the Test cricket is nothing short of extraordinary. His exemplary form with the red ball and his ability to dictate terms in whites makes an invaluable asset in the Virat Kohli-led Indian team.
The Chennai-born off-spinner boasts off a brilliant strike rate that has seldom been matched in the format's long-time history. So far, he has played 39 test matches for India and has picked up 220 scalps which truly speak volumes about the skill and talent of the 30-year old spinner.
However, despite all these truly inspiring feats – Ravichandran Ashwin’s record in the foreign conditions has always been a matter of concern for the Indian team. Many cricket experts still put a question if Ashwin is a test match great considering his overseas record for India in the challenging conditions.
Fantastic at Home
In his short 5-year old career, R Ashwin has played 22 Test matches at home in whites. He has picked up 153 wickets and has contributed in making India #1 side in the world. Even though the Indian conditions assist slow ball bowlers who get some help while bowling on such tracks. One has to bowl efficiently to pick up wickets in this format and needs to stay disciplined with the line and length to force an error from the batsmen. And, Ashwin did that beautifully for India!
In the recently concluded Test series against New Zealand, Ashwin picked up his record seventh Man of the Series award. He ended the three-match series with 27 wickets in his kitty including two ten-wicket hauls and three fifers. Overall, Ashwin’s magnificent strike rate of 43.9 and average of 20.37 at home also defines his usefulness in the longer format for India while playing at home. In 22 Tests, he has grabbed 16 five-wicket hauls and five ten-wicket hauls for the country.
Conditions in Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa are more favorable to the seam bowlers and offer very less assistance to the slower ones. Famously called as ‘Tigers at home and Lambs abroad’, the Indian team has always tried their best to shed this unwanted title from their back. Somehow this notion has changed to some extent after Sourav Ganguly took over the reins of the Indian team.
Indian spinners have always struggled to maintain their form with the red ball in foreign conditions. R Ashwin does not have a great record in away conditions. He has played 17 matches on foreign soil and has picked up 67 wickets at an ordinary average of 33.23. His strike rate of 62.1 is also pretty high as per Ashwin’s standards in test cricket.
Ashwin managed to pick up 5 five-wicket hauls and one ten-wicket haul on the foreign tours, but they came in sub-continent conditions against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and on slow tracks of West Indies.
Barring Australia, where Ashwin has taken 21 wickets in six test matches at a poor average of 54.71, his performance in England and South Africa has also been below par. In England, the 30-year old offie has played two Test matches and has picked up three wickets, while in South Africa he remained wicketless in the maiden test he played against the Proteas.
However, despite these facts, no one can take away the credit from Ashwin for his top-class and match-winning spells in test cricket. His tally of 220 Test wickets in the just 39 Tests is nothing short of gasp-worthy.
Only five fast bowlers (Dale Steyn, Waqar Younis, Malcolm Marshall, Alan Donald and Fred Trueman) had a better strike rate when they reached a similar wickets summit in their careers.