Cheteshwar Pujara picks Ravichandran Ashwin's best bowling spell ahead of the latter's 100th Test

Updated - 05 Mar 2024, 12:27 PM

Ravichandran Ashwin and Cheteshwar Pujara
Ravichandran Ashwin and Cheteshwar Pujara (Credits: Instagram)

Rajkot-born top-order batter Cheteshwar Pujara who was axed away from the plans of Rahul Dravid with the Indian team after the WTC 2023 final, described the best performance of Ravichandran Ashwin. Pujara made these comments in light of Ashwin becoming the latest Indian cricketer to have 100 Test match appearances. The right-arm off-spinner will become the 6th spinner in the world to have played these many matches.

Ravichandran Ashwin will join names like Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Harbhajan Singh, and Nathan Lyon in the 5th Test at Dharamshala. It will be the veteran off-spinner’s 2nd big achievement in the ongoing series. In the 3rd Test, Ashwin had become the 2nd bowler from India to scalp 500 Test wickets with the wicket of opener Zak Crawley.

In the 4th Test match at Ranchi which concluded last week in favor of the hosts, Ashwin had returned with figures of 5/5. His 5-wicket haul came at a very crucial time and exactly when Rohit Sharma needed the Chennai man to do so.

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Pujara rates Ashwin’s performance in 2017’s Test match against Australia at Chinnaswamy as the Best

In a recent interview with ESPNcricinfo, Cheteshwar Pujara was asked to explain the best he has ever seen from Ravichandran Ashwin. Pujara at first found it difficult to pick out one particular match as Ashwin made contributions in many. The batter had 3 matches on his shortlist – the Bengaluru Test in 2017, the Adelaide Test in 2018, and the Sydney Test in 2021, all against mighty Australians.

But when asked to choose one, Pujara said Ashwin’s match-winning performance in the Bengaluru Test was the best he has seen from the off-spinner.

“When it comes to my favorite Test involving Ash, there are too many to just single one out. There’s Bangalore 2017, Adelaide 2018 and Sydney 2021. All these were against Australia. Overall, and Ash would agree, those of us who played the Bangalore Test believe it ranks high among the most memorable ones.” – Pujara told ESPNcricinfo. 

“Australia were 1-0 coming into the game and India fell behind immediately after Nathan Lyon ran through our first innings with an 8-wicket haul. Australia held the upper hand for most of the Test, though we pulled it back in the 2nd innings to set a target of 188. The pressure was on Ash to deliver in that 4th inning.” – Pujara added. 

“It is never easy when you know that you have a very small total to defend. And while every bowler stepped up it was his spell that proved crucial. He picked up 6 wickets. It is easy to presume that as the lead spinner, especially on home pitches, in favorable conditions, he will deliver most times. But the pressure of that expectation can be immense.” – Pujara concluded. 

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Can Ravichandran Ashwin overtake Tom Hartley to become the leading wicket-taker?

As Ravichandran Ashwin inches closer to his 100th Test appearance, the veteran will be aiming to topple Jasprit Bumrah and Tom Hartley to become the leading wicket-taker. Hartley currently leads the chart with 20 wickets in the India Vs England 5-match series. Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, and Ashwin are joint 2nd highest wicket-takers of the series with 17 each. And come March 7th, all of the Indian teammates will aim to overtake each other.

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Cheteshwar Pujara England National Cricket Team IND vs ENG 2024 India National Cricket Team Ravichandran Ashwin