Ashwin wins 9th Player of the Series award, stands behind only Muttiah Muralitharan on iconic list

Mayank Kumar

Mayank Kumar

Author| Dec 6, 7:04 AM

Image: Twitter
Image: Twitter

There is no stopping Ravichandran Ashwin in India as he has leapfrogged former Pakistan skipper Imran Khan and equalled former South Africa’s all-rounder Jacques Kallis on the list of players with most Player of the Series award to their names. 

He has now won nine Player of the Series award in only 81 Tests across 33 series and stands behind only Muttiah  Muralitharan, who won 11 such awards in his 133-game and 61-series long career.

Kallis won nine such awards in his 161-game long career spread across 61 Test series while Imran Khan played 88 Tests and 28 series to win eight Player of the Series award.

He has been an instrumental figure in India’s indomitable rise in the longest format in home conditions and the story was no different in the series against New Zealand. He picked 14 wickets in the two-match long series and also played a crucial role with the bat in the first Test to bail the hosts out of troubling situations. He picked three wickets in each innings of the first Test and followed it up with four wickets each in the second and final Test of the series in Mumbai.

He bowled his heart out on the final day of the first Test in Kanpur but New Zealand lower-order batsmen, especially Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel held their grounds to deny India the win. 

The pitch in Kanpur did offer spin to him and his fellow spinners but the pace of the surface was so slow that batsmen did get more than enough opportunity to defend good balls.

He rated the pitch at Wankhede Stadium as “wonderful” as it offered both the spin and “bit more bite” which he always emphasize on. The balls were bouncing as well while taking turns and hence there were a lot of wickets to spinners, unlike the first game where they had to toil hard and purchase wicket.

"I enjoyed that pitch, spun and had a bit more bite," he said in the post-match presentation. “It was a wonderful pitch. Every time you come to Wankhede, there's something to look forward to.”

When Ajaz Patel completed his rare achievement of picking all 10 wickets in an innings, whole spectators at Wankhede Stadium were up on their feet and one prominent of them all was Ashwin, who was giving him resounding applause from the Indian dressing room. He credited his bowling effort and called it part of destiny that he came to the city of his birth to achieve such a monumental feat.

“Before I get to what I did, it was wonderful from Ajaz. He put the ball in the right places, I enjoyed watching him bowl. It was destiny, I think,” Ashwin lavished praise on Ajaz Patel.

India don't like playing with two off-spinners but the injury to Ravindra Jadeja forced them to play Jayant Yadav. They work on a different mode of operations but Ashwin said that he enjoys a “good relationship” with Jayant, who has spent time with him to understand his understanding of the game and also Axar Patel, who has been his teammate for a long time now while playing in the IPL as well outside of Team India.

“Jayant and I have a good relationship from 2014 when he flew down to Chennai from Haryana to pick my brains. Axar, I've been playing for a while at Kings and Delhi Capitals. For starters, I'd look to play a part in South Africa and finish off with a series win,” Ashwin said.

  • Ravichandran Ashwin
  • Muttiah Muralitharan
  • Jacques Kallis
  • Imran Khan
  • Akshar Patel
  • Jayant Yadav
  • NZ vs IND 2021

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