The Usual Suspects: Ravindra Jadeja (left) and Ravichandran Ashwin took 54 wickets between them against South Africa © AFP
The Usual Suspects: Ravindra Jadeja (left) and Ravichandran Ashwin took 54 wickets between them against South Africa © AFP

It will not be an exaggeration to call Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja the two deciding factors of India’s success in the recently concluded 2015-16 series against South Africa. Not only has the 3-0 margin been resounding, India have won their Tests by 108 runs (Mohali), 124 runs (Nagpur), and 337 runs (Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi). The magnitudes of victories at Mohali and Nagpur may not sound as astounding as the one in Kotla, but Mohali and Nagpur were low-scoring Tests. India also held upper hand in the second Test at Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru, bowling out South Africa for 214 and finishing Day One on 80 without loss. Unfortunately, four days of play were lost due to rain. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs South Africa 2015 4th Test at Delhi

Ashwin and Jadeja shared 54 wickets between them in the series. Amit Mishra played only 2 Tests, but had 7 wickets to show as well, so let us throw him in the mix too.

Indian spinners in 2015-16 series vs South Africa:

Players

M

W

Ave

SR

Ravichandran Ashwin

4

31

11.13

31.9

Ravindra Jadeja

4

23

10.83

36.7

Amit Mishra

2

7

17.29

36.9

All three spinners

 

61

11.72

34.3

Where does the Ashwin-Jadeja pair rank in history? How many pairs of spinners have taken more wickets in a Test series? READ: India vs South Africa 2015, Test series: Marks out of 10 for the hosts

Two spinners from same side taking 50 or more wickets in a Test series:

For

Vs

In

Season

Bowler 1

M

W

Bowler 2

M

W

Total

Aus

SA

SA

1935-36

Clarrie Grimmett

5

44

Bill O’Reilly

5

27

71

Eng

Aus

Eng

1956

Jim Laker

5

46

Tony Lock

4

15

61

Ind

Eng

Ind

1972-73

B Chandrasekhar

5

35

Bishan Bedi

5

25

60

WI

Eng

Eng

1950

Alf Valentine

4

33

Sonny Ramadhin

4

26

59

Ind

Aus

Aus

1977-78

Bishan Bedi

5

31

B Chandrasekhar

5

28

59

Aus

Eng

Eng

1993

Shane Warne

6

34

Tim May

5

21

55

Ind

SA

Ind

2015-16

R Ashwin

4

31

Ravindra Jadeja

4

23

54

Aus

Eng

Eng

1934

Bill O’Reilly

5

28

Clarrie Grimmett

5

25

53

Ind

Aus

Ind

2012-13

R Ashwin

4

29

Ravindra Jadeja

4

24

53

Eng

NZ

Eng

1957

Tony Lock

5

34

Jim Laker

4

17

51

Ind

Aus

Ind

1979-80

Dilip Doshi

6

27

Shivlal Yadav

5

24

51

Note: Not quite a pair, but Bishan Bedi (25 wickets), Bhagwat Chandrasekhar (19), and EAS Prasanna (18) in the 5-Test series against England at home in 1976-77 is worth a mention.

Indeed, Ashwin and Jadeja have been the fourth pair (after Clarrie Grimmett and Bill O’Reilly, Jim Laker and Tony Lock, and Bishan Bedi and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar) to take 50 wickets between them in a Test series twice. However, they are the only pair to do it twice in 4-Test series. In fact, Alf Valentine and Sonny Ramadhin are the only other spin pair to have taken 50 wickets in a Test series between them. READ: Ravindra Jadeja’s all-round show vs South Africa in Freedom Series 2015 should put to rest the all-rounder debate

But where do these men stand in terms of series performances among spinners? Let us check the post-War era:

Best averages by spinners in a series after World War II (qualification: 20 wickets):

Player

vs

Season

M

W

Ave

SR

Tony Lock

NZ

1958

5

34

7.47

31.1

Johnny Wardle

Pak

1954

4

20

8.80

42.9

Derek Underwood

NZ

1969

3

24

9.17

37.5

Jim Laker

Aus

1956

5

46

9.61

37.0

Muttiah Muralitharan

Zim

2001-02

3

30

9.80

40.6

Ravindra Jadeja

SA

2015-16

4

23

10.83

36.7

Muttiah Muralitharan

Ban

2007

3

26

10.85

26.0

Ravichandran Ashwin

SA

2015-16

4

31

11.13

31.9

Daniel Vettori

Ban

2004-05

2

20

11.20

33.5

Graeme Swann

Pak

2010

4

22

12.23

29.1

Best strike rates by spinners in a series after World War II (qualification: 20 wickets):

Player

vs

Season

M

Balls

Runs

W

Ave

SR

Muttiah Muralitharan

Ban

2007

3

677

282

26

10.85

26.0

Shane Warne

Pak

2002-03

3

744

342

27

12.67

27.6

Anil Kumble

Pak

1998-99

2

587

312

21

14.86

28.0

Graeme Swann

Pak

2010

4

641

269

22

12.23

29.1

Tony Lock

NZ

1958

5

1056

254

34

7.47

31.1

Ravichandran Ashwin

SA

2015-16

4

988

345

31

11.13

31.9

Rangana Herath

Pak

2014

2

742

348

23

15.13

32.3

Ravichandran Ashwin

SL

2015

3

690

380

21

18.10

32.9

Harbhajan Singh

Aus

2000-01

3

1071

545

32

17.03

33.5

Daniel Vettori

Ban

2004-05

2

670

224

20

11.20

33.5

Both Ashwin and Jadeja have had phenomenal climbs up the ICC ratings and rankings ladder during the series. At present they are ranked 2nd and 7th on the ICC bowling rankings respectively.

ICC Test bowling ratings and rankings for Ashwin and Jadeja during the series:

Time

R Ashwin

Ravindra Jadeja

Rating

Ranking

Rating

Ranking

Before series

760

8

466

30

After 1st Test (Mohali)

797

4

600

21

After 2nd Test (Chinnaswamy)

806

5

665

13

After 3rd Test (Nagpur)

856

2

693

11

After 4th Test (Kotla)

871

2

789

7

Jadeja’s rise seems steeper than Ashwin’s, but it must be remembered that the higher the rating is, the slower is the growth. Jadeja has also catapulted from 30th on the bowling rank before the series to 7th after it. His rating has increased from 466 to 789. Ashwin and Jadeja have also achieved their career-best ICC ratings. In fact, not many bowlers have matched their rankings in the history of Indian cricket. READ: ICC’s ‘poor’ rating on Nagpur pitch highlights cricket governing body’s ineptness

AshwinJadejaRanking

Do note that these are the best-achieved ratings. These do not represent entire careers, but represent performances of the players at their peaks.

Best-ever ICC Test bowler ratings for Indians (700 or more)

Rank

Player

Global rank

Top rating

Top rating date

1

Kapil Dev

36

877

19/1/1980

2

Ravichandran Ashwin

38

871

8/12/2015

3

Anil Kumble

46

859

30/1/1994

4

Vinoo Mankad

80

811

17/11/1952

5

Subhash Gupte

87

806

10/1/1956

6

Bishan Bedi

91

804

20/12/1977

7

Dilip Doshi

794

3/2/1982

8

Ravindra Jadeja

 

789

8/12/2015

9

Pragyan Ojha

773

9/12/2012

10

Harbhajan Singh

765

16/12/2002

11

Irfan Pathan

761

14/12/2005

12

Javagal Srinath

757

14/10/1999

13

Zaheer Khan

752

30/12/2010

14

EAS Prasanna

747

2/12/1969

15

Bhagwat Chandrasekhar

730

11/1/1978

16

Venkatapathy Raju

723

14/12/1994

17

Bapu Nadkarni

712

8/12/1964

Note: The global ranks are provided only when the bowlers are in the top 100.

Do note that Ashwin’s current rank has been bettered only by Kapil Dev among Indians. Jadeja too has been fantastic, and is marginally out of the all-time top 100 bowlers. Ashwin has jumped past even Anil Kumble after the last Test. READ: India vs South Africa 2015, 4th Test: Feroz Shah Kotla not likely to offer respite to spin-ravaged visitors

Note:

– India’s first great Test spinners, Vinoo Mankad and Subhash Gupte, ranked above the spinners of the 1970s.

– Bishan Bedi had the highest rating of the 1970s spinners, but neither EAS Prasanna nor Bhagwat Chandrasekhar reached 750. Srinivas Venkataraghavan never made it to 700.

– Dilip Doshi, Pragyan Ojha, and Harbhajan Singh all rank above Prasanna and Chandra, as does Ravindra Jadeja.

– Though Kapil tops the list, he is the only seamer in the top 10. However, slots 11, 12, and 13 are occupied by fast bowlers.

– As many as 5 of the top 9 bowlers (Mankad, Bedi, Doshi, Jadeja, and Pragyan Ojha) are left-arm spinners. In fact, 9 men (7 spinners, 2 pacers) on the list of 17 are left-arm bowlers.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor at CricketCountry and CricLife. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)