R Ashwin achieved another high in his career on Saturday when he clinched the wicket of Australia captain Steve Smith on Day 1 of the fourth and final Test being played at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala. The India off-spinner now has more Test wickets in a cricketing season than anyone else, moving ahead of South African pace spearhead Dale Steyen. Ashwin now has 79 wickets from 13 Tests in the 2016-17 season at an average of 25.64. He has also bagged seven five-wicket hauls and three 10-wicket hauls in this period.
Steyn, on the other hand, had 78 scalps from 12 matches in the 2007-08 season at a staggering average of 16.24.
Ashwin had already equalled Steyn when he picked up Glenn Maxwell during the Ranchi Test. He had to wait for a few days before he could make the record his own.
Though Day 1 of the Dharamsala Test belonged to debutant spinner Kuldeep Yadav, Ashwin did his job when needed by dismissing centurion Smith for 111 in the second session of the day.
Even in the ongoing series, Ashwin has 17 wickets from the first three Tests played in Pune, Bengaluru and Ranchi with best figures of 6/41 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium – which was crucial in helping India win and level the series.
Ashwin has been in superb form this home season and was World No.1 in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) rankings for Test bowlers until recently when he was displaced by compatriot Ravindra Jadeja.
Earlier in the series, Ashwin broke Kapil Dev’s (63) record of most number of wickets by an Indian in a home season during the first Test in Pune. Kapil had set the record way back in 1979-80.
Ashwin also became the fastest to reach 250 wickets, going past Australia great Dennis Lillee, who had reached the milestone in his 48th Test.
Recently he also bagged his 25th five-wicket.