He is having a dream run for quite sometime now. So much so, that he became the ICC Cricketer of the Year 2016, the flagship award. When he takes the field tomorrow, he will surely have this at the back of his mind. He is just two wickets shy of becoming the fastest to reach 250 wickets ever. Currently he stands at 248 wickets in 44 matches at a surreal average of 24.96.
Some commentators took it a step further, touting his record as ‘Muralitharanesque’. That is honour for Ashwin.
The Channai-lad had earlier raced past Pakistan great Waqar Younis and Australian Denis Lillee to become the second fastest bowler to claim 200 Test wickets during the first Test against New Zealand in September last year. Ashwin reached the mark in his 37th Test match, bettering Waqar and Lillee, who both took 38 Tests.
He had picked up 72 scalps in 2016 and punched above his weight with the willow as well amassing 612 runs in 14 innings at a respectable average of 43.71, this also included two tons, giving India a much-needed balance in the middle order. His all-round show against the West Indies and New Zealand earned him two Man of the Series awards as well.
With seven awards in the kitty, Ashwin already holds the Indian record for most man-of-the-series awards in Test matches. Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag have five awards each.
He is also the quickest to reach the milestone. It took Ashwin just 36 Test matches and 13 series to win his sixth man-of-the-series awards, breezing past Malcolm Marshall (21 series), Curtly Ambrose (27) and Steve Waugh (54), who all have won the equal number of player of the series honours.
Bangladesh’s biggest threat would be countering Ashwin tomorrow in Hyderabad.