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After scaling Mount 500, will Ashwin hunt Kumble's record?

February 16, 2024 19:55 IST

IMAGE: Ravichandran Ashwin reached his landmark 500 scalps in Test cricket during Day 2 of the ongoing third Test against England. Photograph: BCCI

R Ashwin is a content man after becoming only the second Indian to take 500 Test wickets and has no interest in chasing Anil Kumble's national record of 619 scalps.

Ashwin dismissed England opener Zak Crawley in the final session on day two and became only the ninth bowler to scale 'Mount 500' in Test history.

The 37-year-old Ashwin said he has no particular aim of pushing for more and try and get to Kumble's record.

“The very simple answer is ‘no'… 120 wickets away. Every day is what I want to live for, and, I'm 37 years old. I don't know what's in store next,” Ashwin told the media in Rajkot after stumps on the second day.

“What's in store for the next two months? You play this series and then what lies ahead, you really don't know.


“I don't want to really jump the gun. I've kept it this way for the last 4-5 years and it's been very simple and it's worked for me. Why change anything that's working for you?” Ashwin added.

‘It’s been a very long journey…’

Recalling his journey on one of the most memorable days of his career, Ashwin said he could only look back and say "not a bad achievement".

“It's been a very long journey. I don't exactly know where to begin because I was an accidental spinner. I wanted to be a batter all along. Life gave me a chance.

 “When I walked into the CSK dressing room, Muttiah  Muralitharan didn't want to bowl (with) the new ball and eventually I got tossed the new ball.

“I had a reasonable first-class (cricket) start to my life. (The) first-class career was pretty good. But nevertheless, the stage in the IPL made me made me visible to a lot of people and I eventually got my Test debut.

“People doubted me whether I could be a Test bowler and 10-13 years later… not bad, not a bad achievement. I'm pretty glad,” he added.

Ashwin did not appear being one for big celebrations given his focus on the ongoing Test.

“It's in a very innocuously placed time, the Test match, (the) second day…  I think it's hanging in the balance. It's a good time to celebrate, probably go have dinner and then think about it (and) how far I've come in life,” Ashwin added.

‘It’s been a fair competition between us’

With Nathan Lyon also having completed his 500 Test wickets last December, Ashwin revealed getting congratulated by the Australian wicketkeeper.

“Nathan and I, to a large extent, have been very synonymous in our cricketing careers. We made (our) debut around the similar times,” he said.

“I remember his action from those days. I remember my action from those days. Mine has changed a few notches. His has changed a little bit. It's been a fair competition between both of us.”

“It's been a delight to watch how he's gone about his business and that's what he also claims of me — and that's why I'm saying that about him. Being a finger spinner and having been a mainstay in your respective countries is not easy.

“He recently finished his 500 (wickets), (so) I congratulated him. He has just congratulated me,” Ashwin added.

‘Have always fought a level of perception’

Ashwin said he has fought a battle of perception for a long time in his career but recent years have helped him be at ease.

"I've always fought a level of perception in my life, about what people think of me. But definitely, in the last 5-6 years, I've actually not cared about it. I can't keep proving everybody wrong and I can't prove everybody right. I'm glad that somebody is happy and somebody is not," he said.

"But I need to be happy.  I'm in a really, really good space in my life and I want this to continue. I don't want to let go of the love for the game. At one point in my life, I was in a really dark space. I didn't want to watch the game and that's not where I want to go in my life ever again," he said.

“I'm happy to watch the game. (Even) last night also, I watched Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka play in the third ODI highlights. I watched live New Zealand versus South Africa — this is who I want to be," he said.

Ashwin said if the cracks at the pitch do not open up, the surface will remain good for batting in the third Test.

“At the moment it is feeling like a typical and usual typical Rajkot wicket which will only get slower.

“The deviation you are seeing, the one that is turning, it's going at a really slow clip.  The way the game is going, if the cracks don't open up, the wicket will continue to stay pretty good for batting," he added.

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