The Ashwin phenomenon

Best bowling averages in Tests in Asia, October 13, 2016 ESPNcricinfo Ltd

In the Tests that he has played, Ashwin has averaged 24.29, while all the other bowlers who have played in those Tests have collectively averaged 34.16. That means Ashwin has been 1.41 times as good as those other bowlers, in terms of average. Among all spinners with at least 200 wickets, only Muttiah Muralitharan and Clarrie Grimmett have had better ratios. Among all bowlers with 200-plus wickets, Ashwin is in 13th place; those above him include Dale Steyn, Glenn McGrath, Imran Khan, Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose and Allan Donald.

Best ratio of averages - spinners (Min 200 wkts)

In Asia, Ashwin has been even more effective, with an average of 20.07, compared to 33.70 by all other bowlers. Ashwin's ratio of 1.68 is third among all bowlers who have at least 100 wickets in Asia - only Imran and Muralitharan have done better. Among India's leading bowlers, Kapil Dev has a ratio of 1.27, Javagal Srinath 1.26, Harbhajan Singh 1.18, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar 1.15, and Bishan Bedi 1.12.

Ashwin has made it a habit to dismiss the top opposition batsmen, and he often gets them out early. On the tour to Sri Lanka last year, he dismissed Kumar Sangakkara, who started the series with a career average of 58.04, for 5, 40, 32 and 18. In the home series against South Africa, he nailed Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers twice each, and in those four innings the two batsmen collectively scored 96. Similarly, Kane Williamson fell four times to Ashwin for an aggregate of 135.

All of these batsmen started the series with 50-plus career averages, but generally fell to Ashwin fairly early in their innings. That has been a feature of Ashwin's performances, especially in Asia. He has dismissed batsmen in the top five (Nos. 1-5) in the opposition line-up 88 times in Tests in Asia; the average difference between the batsman's average coming into that Test, and the score at which he was dismissed by Ashwin, has been 15.97. (A simple example of this would be a batsman averaging 50 being dismissed for 34, which is 16 runs below his average.)

This is the highest difference among all spinners who have taken at least 50 top-five wickets in Asia. The corresponding wicket value for Kumble is 0.34, for Harbhajan -2, and for Muralitharan -2.61, which illustrates how effective Ashwin has been at getting good batsmen out early.

Highest wicket-value of dismissals - spinners (Min 50 dismissals in Asia)

His overall average against the top five batsmen is 30.51, the best among all spinners who have taken at least 50 top-five wickets in the last ten years. Among all bowlers, Ashwin is fifth, next only to Steyn (average 26.20), Vernon Philander (27), Ryan Harris (28.21) and James Anderson (29.75).

Ashwin is one of only three players to score 500-plus runs and take 100 or more wickets over a 15-Test period - Imran Khan and Shane Warne are the others. Imran scored 628 runs and took 102 wickets between December 1980 and January 1983, while Warne scored 517 runs and took 100 wickets between November 2001 and March 2004. Ashwin has scored 503 runs and taken 101 wickets in his last 15 Tests.

In the 21 Test wins that Ashwin has been a part of, he has taken 151 wickets out of a team total of 419, which means he has taken 36% of the team's wickets. Among all bowlers who have taken at least 100 wickets in wins, only four have taken a higher percentage of their team's wickets.

Highest percentage of team wickets in wins

Ashwin has become only the third player to win four successive Man-of-the-Series awards - he did so against Sri Lanka, South Africa, West Indies and New Zealand. Only Marshall and Imran have ever done this before. Marshall won four in a row between 1984 and 1986, while Imran won four awards between 1986 and 1988, with three of his four series being away ones - in India, England and the West Indies. Incidentally, both Marshall and Imran won the series awards in the Pakistan-West Indies series in 1986 - it was the last of Marshall's sequence of four, and the first of four in a row for Imran.

Ashwin has already won four in a row, and with home series against England and Australia to follow, he could well become the first to win five or even six in a row if he continues his irresistible form.