Ashwin: Surpassing Harbhajan Test-wicket haul in India incredibly special

By Sports Desk February 14, 2021

Ravichandran Ashwin said he never envisaged bowling for his country when he was a teenager let alone taking more Test wickets in India than Harbhajan Singh after tormenting England on Sunday.

Ashwin took 5-43 on a dramatic day two in Chennai, where the tourists were bowled out for only 134 in reply to India's 329 all out.

Virat Kohli's side were 54-1 at stumps – leading by 249 runs – and well on course to level the four-match series.

Ashwin generated huge turn and bounce, with the spinner's drift also causing the England batsmen all sorts of trouble.

Only the great Anil Kumble (350) has more Test scalps than Ashwin in India after the 34-year-old moved past Harbhajan's total of 265.

Ashwin vividly recalls watching Harbhajan take 15 wickets in Chennai to secure a series win over Australia 20 years ago, and expressed his pride after bettering the Indian great's tally of scalps on home soil.

"When I watched the 2000-01 series, when Bhajju Pa [Harbhajan] played, I didn't even imagine I would go on to become an off-spinner for my country," Ashwin said.

"I was still a batsman for my state. Trying to accelerate towards batting and playing for my country. I wasn't even sure I would go on to become a player for the Indian team.

"Lots of my team-mates from that age, from that generation, used to make fun of me because in my action I used to try to bowl like Bhajju Pa.

"From there on to come on and go past him has to be incredibly special. I didn't know of it. Now that I know of it, I am incredibly happy. Sorry, Bhajju Pa."

Ashwin put England under huge pressure in such tough conditions as he took his 29th five-wicket Test haul – putting him level with Glenn McGrath in seventh on the all-time list.

The wily Ashwin has now claimed the wickets of 200 left-handers in the longest format, a landmark he reached by bowling Stuart Broad.

Related items

  • Cardinals coach Kingsbury deflects Oklahoma job speculation, provides Murray update Cardinals coach Kingsbury deflects Oklahoma job speculation, provides Murray update

    Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury deflected speculation linking him to the University of Oklahoma job, while he is hopeful of Kyler Murray's return.

    The Oklahoma Sooners are reportedly targeting Kingsbury for their vacant coaching position, though the Cardinals coach is contracted through 2022, with a team option for 2023.

    Kingsbury was asked about the rumours as the high-flying Cardinals prepare for Sunday's NFL matchup against the Chicago Bears.

    "I don't get into those things," Kingsbury told reporters on Monday.

    "My sole focus the last couple weeks has been the Chicago Bears and, after watching them on Thanksgiving, it needs to be, because they're a really good football team and had a big win, and so that's where my focus has been."

    The Cardinals lead the NFC and Kingsbury – who was appointed in 2019 – added: "We're in-season, we're 9-2, Just not a topic I want to touch on right now."

    Star Cardinals quarterback Murray has missed the team's last three games due to an ankle injury.

    Murray leads the NFL in completion percentage (72.7) and passer rating (110.4), while he has thrown for 2,276 yards and 17 touchdowns.

    "I am hopeful," Kingsbury said of Murray and DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring).

    "I will leave it at that at this point because I want to see them move around, practice full speed, and see where they are at, and where their comfort level and their confidence is."

  • Inter's Marotta dismisses interest in Fiorentina star Vlahovic Inter's Marotta dismisses interest in Fiorentina star Vlahovic

    Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta downplayed interest in Dusan Vlahovic as clubs reportedly queue up to sign the Fiorentina star.

    Vlahovic is set to leave Fiorentina after opting against signing a new deal in Florence, with the Serbia international's current contract expiring in June 2023.

    The 21-year-old has been linked to Serie A champions Inter, Juventus, Premier League holders Manchester City, Manchester United, Bundesliga winners Bayern Munich, LaLiga titleholders Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Arsenal.

    Marotta was asked about Inter's rumoured interest in the in-demand forward.

    "He is a talent, I know there is a conflictual situation with Fiorentina, but I hope they can solve their issues," Marotta said.

    "However, we have a good mix of young and experienced players in that department."

    Vlahovic has 28 Serie A goals in 2021 – no Fiorentina player has ever scored so many goals in a calendar year in the Italian top flight.

    Only Bayern talisman Robert Lewandowski has netted more in the top five European leagues this year.

    Vlahovic is also the third Fiorentina player to score at least 11 goals in the season's opening 14 Serie A matches since 2000.

  • Ballon d'Or: Lionel Messi unsure if his record haul can be beaten after seventh crown Ballon d'Or: Lionel Messi unsure if his record haul can be beaten after seventh crown

    Lionel Messi is not sure if his record will be broken after the Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina superstar won a seventh Ballon d'Or on Monday.

    Messi claimed the coveted award for a record-extending seventh time during a ceremony in Paris, while Bayern Munich talisman Robert Lewandowski won the inaugural Striker of the Year award and finished second in the Ballon d'Or voting.

    Many had backed Lewandowski to take home the prized individual honour, after France Football's 2020 Ballon d'Or was scrapped due to COVID-19 – the Bayern forward has scored 53 goals in 42 appearances in 2021, the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues across all competitions.

    But Messi added to his incredible haul after guiding Argentina to a drought-ending triumph at the Copa America – the country's first piece of silverware in 28 years, while he has netted 32 goals and supplied 12 assists across 40 club appearances for Barcelona and PSG this year.

    "I don't know if the record is beatable, I just have to accept it," the 34-year-old Messi told reporters, with Cristiano Ronaldo next on the list after winning the award five times.

    "But honestly, I don't know if this record seven Ballon d'Or's can be beaten. But seven anyhow is really impressive and I'm very happy to win it here in Paris.

    "Concerning [Liverpool star] Mohamed Salah, like [Robert] Lewandowski he will have other opportunities in the years to come. Both players are really at the best at what they've managed so far. They will have other opportunities to win the trophy."

    Messi scored four goals and provided five assists as he led the Albiceleste to their first Copa America title since 1993, involved in nine of the 12 goals scored by Argentina at the showpiece South American tournament.

    "I had a pretty good year with Barcelona without titles, however I did win the Copa del Rey," Argentina's captain and all-time leading scorer Messi added.

    "The Copa America was very important to help me win this Ballon d'Or. And yes, I am very proud to be the first PSG to conquer this Ballon d'Or. It's special to do so with another jersey and it makes me very proud.

    "This trophy really is special. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment with the Argentine national team. It was indeed a special year for me and of course it helped me in this new stage in my life, this move to PSG and my family and kids.

    "I know they enjoy the moment and I enjoy seeing them happy. Seeing my parents, cousins and brothers happy, too."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.