R Ashwin shares how Bhajji inspired him to become a spinner Photograph:( AFP )
R Ashwin surpassed Harbhajan Singh to become India's third highest wicket-taker in Tests. The wily off-spinner recalled how Bhajji had inspired him to take up spin bowling.
R Ashwin achieved a big feat during the fifth and final day of the first Test between India and New Zealand at Green Park, Kanpur. The off-spinner was five wickets away from surpassing Harbhajan Singh in the list of most wickets for India in red-ball format prior to the Kanpur Test. While he accounted for three scalps in NZ's first essay, he removed opener Tom Latham (52) on the final day to move past Bhajji's wicket-tally.
With this, Ashwin toppled veteran off-spinner Harbhajan to take the third spot in terms of most wickets for India in whites (418 scalps). Here's the top five wicket-takers for India in the purest format after the drawn Kanpur Test:
Anil Kumble - 619
Kapil Dev - 434
R Ashwin - 419*
Harbhajan Singh - 417
Zaheer Khan/Ishant Sharma- 311
Ashwin ended the game with a six-wicket haul as India and New Zealand were involved in a humdinger of a contest in Kanpur, which ended in a draw. In pursuit of 284, the Kiwis were 165/9 but managed to earn a draw and go into the second and final Test, on December 3, with a 0-0 scoreline.
Speaking after the game, the 35-year-old Ashwin revealed that it was Harbhajan's famous spell against Australia in 2001 that inspired him to become a spinner. "These are numbers that are just happening because of the effort I have been putting in.. I am trying to enjoy my game. I am not worried about what number I am surpassing, it is a wonderful milestone. When Harbhajan Singh bowled that famous spell against Australia in 2001, I did not think I would be an off-spinner one day," Ashwin told Shreyas lyer in a video which was posted by bcci.tv.
At the post-match presentation, he had told the broadcasters, "(On moving past Harbhajan's tally) These are milestones that are constantly kept on tab, it's wonderful. Ever since Rahul bhai has taken over, he's kept saying that how many ever wickets you take, how many ever runs you make in 10 years time, you won't remember them. It's the memories that matters so I want to have some special memories going forward in the next 3-4 years."
For the unversed, Ashwin has 292 scalps at home and has accounted for 123 wickets while playing being on the road. On the other hand, he has 4 wickets at neutral venues. In addition, he has 30 five-fers and 7 ten-wicket hauls in his Test career.
Ashwin will like to guide India to a series win in the second and final Test versus the Black Caps, in Mumbai, which will start on December 3 at the Wankhede Stadium.