India off-spinner R Ashwin created history on the fifth day of the South Africa Test as he became joint fast-fastest bowler to scalp 350 wickets in Tests, equalling the record of legend Muttiah Muralitharan. At the end of fourth day’s play, Ashwin was just one wicket away from his 350th Test scalp and he created history by dismissing Theunis de Bruyn.
Both the players now have 350 wickets in 66 Test matches.
The ongoing Test is a comeback match for Ashwin as he wasn’t given a chance in West Indies. The right-arm bowler sat out along with Kuldeep Yadav as the team management went in with Ravindra Jadeja and Hanuma Vihari in the playing XI.
Ashwin redeemed himself right in his first Test of the year and has claimed nine* wickets so far in the Test match. South Africa still has seven wickets in the bag and Ashwin is expected to be the wrecker-in-chief with the ball if India is to win this Test.
The 33-year-old, who made his Test debut against West Indies under MS Dhoni in 2011, has been the lead spinner for India right from day 1. On occasions, he has been dropped from playing XI when conditions have not asked for a spinner in the playing XI but Ashwin has never been dropped from the Test squad altogether.
In 2018, a half-fit Ashwin played the fourth Test in England that saw him miss the fifth Test. In Australia as well, Ashwin had to miss three Tests due to fitness issues.
Since 2017, he has only been part of a red-ball team, which has seen him spend a lot of time away from international cricket as well. India did not play a Test between January and August this year, that saw Test specialists staying away from the action for close to seven months.
With his performance in the ongoing Test, Ashwin has once again delivered the promise and has shown why he is known to be one of the best off-spinners in the present era.