Ahmedabad: On a wicket that helped spinners right from the start, it looked that it would only be a matter of time before R. Ashwin would reach his tally of 400 Test wickets in England’s second innings on the second day of the third Test here.
By the 24th over of England’s second innings, he had claimed his third wicket to get to the milestone despite struggling for his line early on as left-arm spinner Axar Patel ran through England’s top-order.
He finished with innings figures of four for 48 and match figures of seven for 74 as England were bowled out for 81.
The 34-year-old bowler is the second quickest after Muttiah Muralitharan (72) to get to 400 Test wicket mark. This is Ashwin’s 77th Test match.
The off-spinner, who took three wickets in the first innings, needed six scalps ahead of this Test to get to 400 which has been breached (among Indians) only by former pace bowler Kapil Dev (434), former leg-spinner Anil Kumble (619) and former off-spinner Harbhajan Singh (417 wickets) before.
For some time early in England’s second innings after Patel had made early dents, it seemed that the visitors were on road to recovery with Ben Stokes and Joe Root at the crease.
Stokes went after the bowling, especially Ashwin as the bowler tried a bit too hard to turn giving loose balls. In his first eight overs, he gave away 33 runs — without a wicket — at over four an over despite there being so much help in the pitch.
But then he got into wickets, getting Stokes for the 11th time in Tests with one that didn’t turn. He then trapped England captain and batting mainstay Joe Root again with one that again did not turn and then followed it up with the wicket of Ollie Pope who had earlier reverse-swept him for four.
The delivery moved away a bit and Pope was bowled. He then got Jofra Archer for his 400th again with the one that didn’t turn much and followed it with the wicket of Jack Leach.
Among the Indian bowlers with over 400 wickets, Ashwin commands the best average — 24.94 as against Anil Kumble’s 29.65, Kapil Dev’s 29.64, and Harbhajan Singh’s 32.46.