Melbourne was an ideal example of a redemption led by a new captain with able commanders parading in perhaps the most synchronised manner that cricket has seen in recent years. That Ajinkya Rahane was the hero of India’s rise-from-the-debris win in the 2nd Test against Australia, is undeniable but the support he received from Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandran Ashwin and even debutants Mohammed Siraj and Shubman Gill was admirable. It spoke volumes about the character of the Indian side.
But even in the supporting cast, there is one or two who outdo everyone and play a defining role in the victory. In Melbourne, they were Ashwin and Jadeja. While Jadeja did get his share of limelight, especially for his half-century in the first innings, one gets the feeling Ashwin deserved more.
Just like the fact that Ashwin breaking a record by going past spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan warranted better space beside other significant records like MCG becoming India’s most successful venue outside home and the 8-wicket win being India’s first one of the decade while chasing outside home.
No other bowler in the world has dismissed left-handers more than Ashwin now. The India off-spinner now has 192 wickets against left-handers – the most. Ashwin achieved the feat on Day 4 of the Boxing Day Test when he dismissed Josh Hazlewood to bundle Australia out for 200 in the second innings on Tuesday.
Previously the record to dismiss most left-handers was held by Muralitharan with 191 wickets.
51.2% of Ashwin’s wickets against the left-handers is also the highest by some margin. Ashwin has 375 wickets in 73 Tests so far.
England pacer James Anderson is third in the list and has claimed the wicket of 186 southpaws. Australia’s Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne have dismissed 172 left-handers each, however, the spinner is the leading wicket-taker for the Aussies in Test.
Ashwin has been in brilliant form in the ongoing Test series against Australia. The senior campaigner is the leading wicket-taker for India in the ongoing series with 10 scalps under his belt.
Australian batsmen are finding it hard to decode Ashwin’s bowling. Steve Smith too admitted that he has allowed the India spinner to dictate terms in their battle in the ongoing Test series.
Smith, who has been dismissed twice by Ashwin in the ongoing Test series, said he hasn’t allowed any other spinner to dictate terms like the Indian spinner did to him.
“I probably haven’t played Ashwin as well as I would’ve liked; I probably would’ve liked to have put him under a bit more pressure. I’ve sort of let him dictate terms and that’s something I’ve probably never let any spinner do in my career,” Smith told SEN radio.
“I’ve sort of taken it to them, been a bit more aggressive and made them change things. I haven’t allowed that to happen, probably because I’m searching for just being out there for long enough,” he added.
India levelled the four-match series on Tuesday after securing an eight-wicket win in the Boxing Day Test. The third Test between both teams will begin on January 7.
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