Record-breaker Ashwin inspired by Harbhajan's bowling

Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (left) has thanked countryman Harbhajan Singh for inspiring him to bowl off-spin.

The Tamil Nadu player said that he picked up the ball only after seeing Harbhajan's "wonderful spell" against Australia in 2001.

Ashwin on Monday moved past Harbhajan's tally of 417 wickets to become India's third-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket at 419.

He achieved that feat on the final day of the opening Test against New Zealand at the Green Park in Kanpur.

The 35-year-old equalled Harbhajan's 417 wickets on Sunday after he dismissed Will Young. Ashwin dismissed Tom Latham in the New Zealand second innings to go past Harbhajan's tally.

"It's a wonderful milestone," said Ashwin. "Harbhajan Singh, when he was bowling that wonderful spell against Australia in 2001, I never thought I would even be an off-spinner on that particular day. But, inspired by him, I picked up the ball to bowl off-spin and here I am. Thank you for inspiring me, Bhajji pa."

Recalling how he became an off-spinner after watching Harbhajan bowl, Ashwin said: "Actually, I was more of a batter. I used to bowl a lot of seam-up for Tamil Nadu and then my pelvic disc slipped. Then I just started batting, I didn't want to bowl at all. I wanted to do nothing with bowling.

"After the 2001 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, I decided to take up spin bowling. That's when I watched Bhajji pa. It was pretty easy, put your hands across and just hop and skip and you keep going.

"That's how I started, but now I don't know whether I can do it (copy Harbhajan's style) because I have been on my action for a long, long time."

Ashwin is now behind Anil Kumble (619) and Kapil Dev (434) in India's all-time list of highest Test wicket-takers. He is the fourth Indian bowler to take more than 400 wickets.

Monday's achievement made him the 13th highest wicket-taker in Tests, moving past Pakistan's Wasim Akram (414).

He is the third-highest wicket-taker in Tests among active cricketers, after English pace duo Stuart Broad and James Anderson, who have 524 and 632 wickets respectively.

Ashwin, who made his Test debut in November 2011 against the West Indies in New Delhi, has claimed his wickets at a strike rate of 52.4 and an average of 24.5.

Indo-Asian News Service

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