Ravichandran Ashwin has become the fastest Indian bowler to take 350 wickets in Test cricket. He achieved this feat after dismissing Theunis de Bruyn early on Day 5 of the first Test between India and South Africa in Visakhapatnam. Ashwin took 66 Tests to reach 350 wickets in the longest format of the game, while Sri Lanka legend Muttiah Muralitharan, who leads the all-time wicket-taker’s list with 800 wickets, also got to the landmark in his 66th Test. Anil Kumble, India’s leading wicket-taker in Tests with 619 wickets, had previously held the record, reaching the milestone in 77 Tests.
After not being in the Test squad for more than a year, Ashwin straightaway proved his class when he dismissed South Africa opener Aiden Markram with a delightful delivery that hit the top of middle-stump after spinning into the right-hander from outside the off-stump during the first innings of the Vizag Test. Ashwin’s experience in red-ball cricket came handy when he removed a set Quinton de Kock, who was batting on 111. After turning two deliveries far from the left-hander’s reach, Ashwin pushed one and made sure de Kock heard the death rattle. He also helped India wrap up the tail-enders quickly on Day 4 with the wickets of Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada.
The Tamil Nadu spinner will remember this memorable comeback, as he went on to pick up his 27th 5-wicket haul in the 1st innings of the Test. Ashwin finished with figures of 7/145, the 5th time he picked up 7 wickets in an innings in Test cricket. He has gone past Dale Steyn and is tied with England’s James Anderson and Ian Botham on the seventh spot on the list of players with the most 5-wicket hauls in Tests.