On This Day in 2017 – Ravichandran Ashwin becomes the fastest to 300 Test wickets

Sri Lanka toured India in the final quarter of 2017 for featuring in a 3-match Test series which would be followed by a 3-match ODI and a 3-match T20I series. The Test series marked India’s preparation for the South African tour as they prepared spicy tracks against Sri Lanka. The first Test at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens ended in a draw due to bad weather conditions throughout the game.

Waiting for the milestone

During this Test, no Indian spinner could pick a wicket as the pacers accounted for 17 scalps. India’s leading spinner Ravichandran Ashwin stood eight wickets away from completing 300 wickets in Test cricket ahead of the series. The milestone was at the same distance prior to the 2nd Test at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur. In Kolkata, Ashwin bowled only 8 overs; all during the first innings only. It was the first-ever Test played by Ashwin at home where he went wicketless.

In fact, until the start of the Test series against Sri Lanka, Ashwin failed to pick a wicket during a home Test innings only on two instances. Ashwin needed to snare the remaining eight wickets in the next two Test matches he played for becoming the fastest cricketer to reach the milestone of 300 wickets in Test cricket. The Nagpur Test was the 54th game of Ashwin’s Test career while the record of being fastest to 300 Test wickets was held by Dennis Lillee who reached there in 56 Tests.

Claiming glory

Sri Lanka, who elected to bat first, were bowled out for only 205 in their first innings. Ishant Sharma picked three wickets while Ashwin ran through Sri Lanka’s middle and lower order with a 4-wicket haul. The off-spinner now was only four wickets away from the milestone. India declared their first innings on 610/6, which they reached with the help of centuries from Murali Vijay (128), Cheteshwar Pujara (143), Virat Kohli (213) and Rohit Sharma (102*).

Ashwin opened his tally in the second innings as he got the better of Dasun Shanaka who was the 6th wicket to fall in the Sri Lankan chase. The off-spinner followed it by dismissing Dilruwan Perera for a golden duck in his next over. Two balls later, it was Rangana Herath’s turn to return to the pavilion as Ashwin’s Test tally reached 299. Sri Lanka tried to hang around with a partnership of 58 runs for the 9th wicket. However, Ishant broke the stand to bring India close to a huge win.

Three overs later, Ashwin deceived the No.11 batsman Lahiru Gamage to seal an innings and 239-run win for India. However, the dismissal needed confirmation from the 3rd umpire as Ashwin’s carrom ball flicked the off-stump on its way to the keeper. Thus, Ravichandran Ashwin rewrote the record of fastest to 300 Test wickets on 27th November 2017, exactly 36 years after Lillee took his 300th Test wicket in his 56th game.