Cape Town – It must be a slightly scary thought to the Proteas that in the 2015 calendar year thus far, India’s kingpin off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has not yet experienced a Test match in which he’s failed to take four wickets or more in at least one of the innings.
The tall 29-year-old has represented his country in six Tests since his year began against Australia – fourth and final contest at the Sydney Cricket Ground – in early January.
In that time, he has snared 39 wickets at an average of 20.82 and strike rate of 38.4. In simpler mathematical language, he is grabbing six and a half scalps per match.
Ashwin lies only fifth on the list of leading Test wicket-takers since the beginning of 2015, but that is primarily because he has played fewer matches than any of the bowlers above him.
Lanky England paceman Stuart Broad, for example, tops the pile with 51 wickets (average 25.09) ... but he has played more than double the number of Tests, at 13.
So Ashwin can probably be branded statistically the most devastating bowler of the year thus far.
South Africa are already all too aware of that: although left-armer Ravindra Jadeja was a serious handful too, Ashwin’s match haul of eight for 90 in the first Test at Mohali a few days ago only confirmed that his golden trot doesn’t seem set to hit the skids just yet.
The world’s No 1-ranked team find themselves 1-0 down going into Saturday’s second Test at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, and also hardly need reminding that Ashwin’s confidence is sky-high – it is being said locally that he doesn’t even need a raging turner to be effective at present, given his prowess through the air.
It will be only his second personal appearance in a Test at the venue, although on the prior occasion, in a victory over New Zealand in 2012, he bagged five for 69 in the Black Caps’ second innings.
Below are Ashwin’s hauls in all six Tests he’s played in 2015, from most recent:
South Africa, Mohali: 5/51 and 3/39
Sri Lanka, Colombo SSC: 0/33 and 4/69
Sri Lanka, Colombo PSS: 2/76 and 5/42
Sri Lanka, Galle: 6/46 and 4/114
Bangladesh, Fatullah: 5/87 and 0/8
Australia, Sydney: 1/142 and 4/105
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