As R Ashwin gears up for 100th Test, a statistical breakdown of his remarkable career

March 04,2024

Ravichandran Ashwin on the first day of the fourth Test between India and England, at the JSCA International Stadium Complex, in Ranchi. (PTI Photo)

Ashwin Ravichandran has a fondness for scaling rare peaks. Come Thursday, India’s premier spinner will walk into another ballroom of legends during the fifth Test against England at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala.

Ashwin is set to become the 14th Indian and the first Tamil Nadu cricketer to feature in 100 Test matches, a remarkable milestone for a man who loves every facet associated with his sport to the hilt.

A constant pathbreaker across his 13-year journey in whites, Ashwin could also be joined by three more of his contemporaries - Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson and Tim Southee – to be featuring in their respective 100th Tests at the same time on the cricketing calendar - a first in Test history.

Emerging on the scene during the void left by Anil Kumble’s retirement and the waning powers of senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, Ashwin grew into the space effortlessly.

Only bettered by Murali

And now, heading into his 100th Test, Ashwin’s bowling record ranks among the best of all 22 players (bowlers/all-rounders) who have played as many matches and claimed at least 100 wickets in the format.

Only Muttiah Muralidaran (584) had more wickets heading into their 100th Test match than Ashwin’s 507.

Ashwin’s career strike-rate (51.3) is also the best among all players in their first 99 Test matches.

Ashwin’s career strike-rate is also the best among all spinners in Test history, min. 150 wickets, which includes 40 bowlers.

That Ashwin has maintained the brilliance of his craft so incredibly well over 13 years is suggested by his overall graph ahead of his milestone Test. Ashwin’s career bowling average (23.91) and strike-rate are at the best they have ever been over his career – a testament to his durability.

India's Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates the wicket of Ben Foakes during the third day of the fourth Test match between India and England at the JSCA International Cricket Stadium in Ranchi. (PTI Photo)

Master of the subcontinent

A key man in the engine room of India’s home dominance in Tests over the last decade, Ashwin has commanded authority at almost every venue he has played in the country.

The best bowlers in the game have all had their favourite hunting grounds at home.

Muralidaran amassed 100-plus wickets at three venues (Colombo, Kandy and Galle) in Sri Lanka. James Anderson and Stuart Broad are other bowlers to have earned over 100 wickets at a single venue (both at Lord’s), while Rangana Herath picked up 102 and 84 wickets at Galle and Colombo respectively.

There are 68 instances of bowlers picking up at least 50 Test wickets at a venue. Among Indians, Kumble has managed 58 in Delhi and 48 in Chennai, and Harbhajan has 46 in Kolkata.

On the other hand, Ashwin has not picked up more than 38 wickets at any venue, his best coming at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. That his wickets have come across varying turfs in India impresses his expertise over the sub-continent conditions.

India's Ravichandran Ashwin bowls a delivery on the fourth day of the third Test match between India and England, at the Niranjan Shah Stadium, in Rajkot. (PTI Photo)

Most wickets via bowled, LBW

Ashwin is the oldest Indian bowler to record a 10-wicket match haul (36y 300d v WI, 2023) and the second-oldest Indian to take a Test five-for (37y 159d v England, 2024) behind Vinoo Mankad (37y 306d).

Ashwin has the most wickets bowled and leg-before (214; bowled - 101, lbw - 113) by a spinner and second-most overall, behind Anderson (233).

Ashwin has recorded 74 dismissals of batters for a duck - the second-best aggregate for an Indian bowler in Tests behind Kumble (77).

Ashwin has bowled only 10 no-balls in his career, all coming within five consecutive series between 2021 and 2022.

Ashwin has bagged 170 Test wickets (33.5 percent of his career wickets) opening the bowling (as No.1 or No.2 bowler) in 44 matches. It is by far the best among spinners, with Rangana Herath (104) being the only other bowler to manage 100-plus wickets.

Greatest asset with ball

Ashwin has stamped his mark as India’s greatest asset with the ball in an era of their dominance at home. Since his debut, India have won 44 of their 59 matches at home with six defeats – a win/loss ratio of 7.333 being the best among all Test-playing nations in the period. It has also marked a phase when India have won more away Tests than any other side (23 matches).

Featuring in 58 of these triumphs, Ashwin has picked up 354 Test wickets at 19.11, striking every 43 balls – the best among all Indian bowlers and the fifth-best overall behind Muralidaran, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Anderson.