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Ravichandran Ashwin: A complete cricketer who rocketed to prominence

Ravichandran Ashwin scored a century against West Indies in his debut Test series © Getty Images
Ravichandran Ashwin scored a century against West Indies in his debut Test series © Getty Images

This lanky lad from Chennai might have started playing for India as their spinning spearhead, but after the fourth Test between India and England at Manchester, the revised ICC Test rankings opine that Ravichandran Ashwin is the best all-rounder in the longer format of the game. Rajarshi Majumdar will throw light upon some of his biggest achievements in his cricketing career.

Ravichandran Ashwin kick-started his career as an opening batman for Tamil Nadu. Who would have thought then that he will be one of India’s spinning spearheads? He was picked for the Test squad during the West Indies tour to India in 2011, replacing Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra in the Test squad. It takes a lot guts and conviction to replace a stalwart in the side. But Ashwin came, played, and conquered.

People eulogised his performance on his debut, but what he did actually was quite phenomenal. Picking up nine wickets on debut is  no mean feat. He did not get distracted; instead he concentrated more on his bowling.  He is the kind of player who will never shy away from a challenge. This attitude of his earned him a lot of laurels. There were times when Indian skipper MS Dhoni threw the ball at him and asked him to bowl the very first over of a match, irrespective of which format of the game. Even when he fails, he manages to resurrect himself eventually.

Ashwin is one of the best in the business when it comes to bowling the carrom ball. He once said in an interview that he  was fascinated with Ajantha Mendis, who was baffling every batting order he came up against. He worked hard on his carrom balls, and now it is arguably his most effective weapon across formats. There is also a certain degree of calmness that helps him focus more on his game.

He has also proved his worth with the bat as well. He has a number of shots, and more importantly, he also knows when and where to unleash them. He has been a handy lower-order batsman for India. He proved his worth with the bat in his debut Test series, as he smashed a century against the West Indies. Time and again, he has proved that he can be relied upon even when the top order collapses.  He scored 40 and 46 not out in his two innings  of the fourth Test at Old Trafford. What stood out was his positive intent even amid the ruins. On the other hand, a batsman of Virat Kohli’s caliber could only manage to score 107 runs in seven innings in this ongoing series. He is likely to come in handy with the bat in the final Test at the Oval as well, where India will be looking to square the series.

The kind of ability he posses means that he has the potential to go down as one of the best utility cricketers in modern times. Small wonder, then, that he is now at the No 1 position in the ICC Test rankings for all-rounders, replacing the likes of Shakib-al-Hasan, Vernon Philander and Shane Watson. There is a long road ahead of him, and one feels that he will come up with more performances that will be remembered in the years to come.

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(Rajarshi Majumdar is a reporter at CricketCountry. He played cricket for all age levels under the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) for over 12 years. Apart from cricket he is an avid follower of football, supports Manchester United and a foodie at heart.)  

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