Ravichandran Ashwin vs Harbhajan Singh: Statistical comparison (after 78 Tests)
Ravichandran Ashwin is one of the most astute spinners in Test cricket presently. His deceptive variations make him a prolific wicket-taker in any nation. In the previous decade, he replaced Harbhajan Singh, who had mastered this art during the 2000s. While MS Dhoni backed Ashwin, the latter had received support from Sourav Ganguly. We compare the stats of Ashwin and Harbhajan (after 78 matches).
Ashwin is presently the fourth-highest wicket-taker among Indians in Test cricket. In 78 Tests, he has picked up 409 wickets at a remarkable average of 24.69. He owns as many as 30 five-wicket hauls and seven 10-fors. The formidable tally includes a best match haul of 13/140. Ashwin has also scored 2,656 runs with the help of 5 hundreds and 11 half-centuries.
During his illustrious international career that spanned over a decade, Harbhajan picked up over 400 Test wickets (417). He is one of the few Indians to have played more than 100 Test matches. Notably, Harbhajan had scalped 332 wickets after 78 Tests at 30.81. At the same stage (after 78 matches), Ashwin (409) has 77 more scalps than that of Harbhajan.
Both Ashwin and Harbhajan have always been among wickets against Australia. Till his 78th Test, the latter had taken 79 wickets at 28.82 against them. The tally included 7 five-fors and three hauls of 10 wickets. Meanwhile, Ashwin has already taken 89 wickets at 31.48 against the Aussies. Interestingly, 39 of them have been registered Down Under.
The 2000/01 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, wherein India came from behind and defeated the mighty Australians, changed the dynamics of Indian cricket. Harbhajan was the star of the series, having taken 32 wickets, which included a historic hat-trick. Nearly two decades later, Ashwin matched his feat by disarraying the English batsmen. He accounted for 32 scalps as India recently defeated England 2-1 at home.
The impact of spinners usually gets pruned outside the sub-continent. However, Ashwin and Harbhajan have even thrived away from home. In fact, Harbhajan is known as The Turbanator, owing to his knack for terminating the opposition in away games. In 35 such Tests, he took 116 wickets (Best: 10/153). Meanwhile, Ashwin has taken 123 wickets from 31 away Tests so far.
Both Ashwin and Harbhajan have another stat in common. The duo has taken most of their wickets in the third innings of a Test. Considering this, Ashwin has taken 131 wickets at 24.02, while Harbhajan owns 104 wickets at 23.27.
Both Harbhajan and Ashwin have won several matches single-handedly for Team India. In winning cause (31 Tests), the former has snapped up 171 wickets at a formidable average of 20.88. He has a total of 13 five-wicket hauls in these matches. Besides, Ashwin has accounted for 288 wickets in the Tests (46) won by India. He averages just 19.41 in winning cause.