Ravichandran Ashwin became the fastest bowler to 300 Test wickets as India warmed up for their South Africa tour by crushing Sri Lanka.
The off-spinner picked up eight wickets in the match at Nagpur, his 54th, to extend Virat Kohli’s record of never losing a series as captain. India lead the three-Test series 1-0.
The irony is that India have been playing on surfaces vastly different to normal, in order to replicate those they expect to find in South Africa where they will play three Tests, six ODIs and three T20s, starting on January 5.
It was one-way traffic for India in this Test, with Kohli leading the attack by scoring a double hundred, backed by centuries from Cheteshwar Pujara (143), Murali Vihay (128) and Sharma Rohit (102*) in a total of 610-6 declared. Sri Lanka, who had scored just 205 in the opening innings, could muster only 166 in reply, with Ashwin taking four-fors in each innings.
He has harvested his 300 wickets at an economy rate of just 2.88, and an average of 25.06.
Among those 54 Tests, Ashwin has taken 31 South African wickets … but all have been on home grounds. In his one match in South Africa, he conceded 108 runs in Johannesburg in 2013.
In the rain-hit draw in the first Test, India took 17 Sri Lanka wickets, and all of them went to pace bowlers. Between them, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav bowled 99 overs across the two innings, while Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin, ranked No 2 and No 4 in the ICC Test bowlers’ rankings before the game, bowled 10.
The pitch was so green, it raised suspicions that India had asked specifically for a green top in order to prepare for the tour of South Africa.
Lokesh Rahul admitted after the match that India were looking ahead to overseas tours.
‘It’s very clear that we’re preparing for the next two years that we’re going to travel abroad, and play a lot of cricket overseas and we are going to find wickets like this, and it is going to be challenging for all of us, so we wanted to prepare in that way,’ he said.
Australia’s Dennis Lillee had previously held the record to the fastest 300 wickets, taking 56 Tests, followed by Murali Muralitharan (58), Richard Hadlee (NZ), Malcolm Marshall (West Indies) and Dale Steyn (SA), all in 61 Tests.