If India off-spinner R Ashwin ends up playing 100 Test matches -- the current Test is his 76th -- he might end up with over 500 wickets and become India's second highest wicket-taker in Test cricket behind leg-spinner Anil Kumble. And if the 34-year-old manages to play as many as 132 Tests that Anil Kumble played, there is every likelihood that he would end up as the highest wicket-taker for India.At the moment, he is fourth in the list of top wicket-takers behind Kumble (619), Kapil Dev (434)and Harbhajan Singh (417).Ashwin picks wickets at over five a Test match which is much higher than Kumble's 4.68 and Harbhajan Singh's 3.95. Both Kumble (619) and Harbhajan (417) are India's two top wicket-takers but they both lag behind Ashwin when it comes to strike rate as well as average.The current India off-spinner's strike rate of 53.6 and average of 25.27 is much better than those of Kumble (SR: 65.9; Avg: 29.65) and Harbhajan (SR: 68.5; Avg: 32.46).There can be debate on the quality of batsmen or the pitches he has bowled on as compared to the other two with experts having differing views but the fact that he is going to be an all-time great bowler for India is never in doubt.
Ashwin already has 29 five-wicket hauls after taking two in the series so far. He is in line for a third five-wicket haul in the two Tests if he takes another four wickets in England's second innings.Only Anil Kumble among Indian spinners have more five-wicket hauls than him. Kumble has 35 five-wicket hauls.Former India captain Gautam Gambhir called R Ashwin as India's greatest match-winner after Kumble."He always goes under the radar a little bit, because there are players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah. What he has done in Test cricket for India is unbelievable," said Gambhir on Star Sports.One quality that marks Ashwin out from other spinners is that he loves bowling with the new ball. On Monday too, he was brought in early and took the wicket of Rory Burns who was looking good."A lot of finger spinners don't bowl well with the new ball. They want a little bit old ball which can actually grip and stuff, but R Ashwin; the kind of variation he has got, he undercuts the ball, he can take the ball away from you and he is brilliant against the left-handers as well as the right-handers," added Gambhir.Ashwin is brilliant against left-handers. More than half of his wickets -- 201 out of 392 -- have been against left-handers.