India vs England: Among the active India Test cricketers, Ishant Sharma is the most experienced and is one shy of playing in 100 matches. On Tuesday, during the fourth day of the first Test between India and England in Chennai, the workhorse became only the third ever pacer from his country to touch the milestone of 300 Test wickets, an achievement that is a prime example of his work ethic and dedication, feels his teammate Ravichandran Ashwin.

Ishant, a right-arm pacer, has joined an elite company that boasts of legendary allrounder Kapil Dev (434) and former India left-arm pacer Zaheer Khan (311). While paying rich tributes, Ashwin now wishes to see his teammate surpass the 400-mark.

“Look, Ishant has been one of the most hard-working cricketers, that I have seen in that Indian team dressing room,” Ashwin said after the fourth day’s play came to an end. “He has worked extremely hard, for more than just one reason, because being that tall (6 ft 4 inch) itself requires a lot of facets to be managed through a career which is spanned out through almost 14 years now.”

Ashwin, who has taken 386 wickets so far, says getting close to playing 100 Tests in India is a ‘fantastic achievement’ in itself. “Ishant, who went to Australia and got Ricky Ponting out (in 2007-08), and then has gone through so many other tours, had his fair share of injuries, for a fast bowler to get close to 100 Tests in India is not a joke and it is fantastic fantastic achievement,” he said.

“I can keep going on and keep complimenting Ishant, but I really wish to see him get to 400 and probably 500 wickets, which should be sort of road map for a lot of Indian quicks going forward,” he added.

The job of a fast bowler is sometimes punishing and it takes a toll on their bodies but the fact that Ishant manages to smile despite the workload, is one of his biggest qualities. “If I have to say something about Ishant, his biggest plus is the smile. He is ever smiling. Even if he is very tired, he is smiling. Today, I jokingly told him that you won’t get a bowl. He (Ishant) said that’s ok because he was really tired. He is a man with a funny streak,” Ashwin said.