India’s Ravi Ashwin will go down in cricket history as one of the game’s all-time greats, according to former England paceman Steve Harmison.
Ashwin added a century to his five-wicket haul on the third day of the second Test against England – becoming only the second player ever to record that feat three times at the top level.
Sir Ian Botham is the only player to have completed that achievement on more occasions and Harmison, who featured in 63 Tests, believes the India all-rounder deserves a place among the top echelon of international players.
“He’s a world-class performer,” Harmison told Sky Sports News. “When you talk about top-class spin bowlers, he will be one of the greats of the game when he finishes.
“He’s got huge skill level, determination and guts in a fight – we’ve seen that when he was out in Australia [with India] recently.
“In this series so far, he’s been fantastic with the ball and to do what he did – when you look at the stats, it’s the third time he’s taken five wickets and scored a century.
“Sir Ian Botham did it five times and looking at the other names that are on that list, the likes of Sir Garfield Sobers and people like that with such an achievement, it speaks volumes for how good the guy is.
“He’s very, very difficult to combat and play against. He has taken the game away from England with the bat, but the way he’s bowled against them has been a constant threat.”
Ashwin struck his fifth Test hundred – and his first on his home ground at Chennai – as India totalled 286 in their second innings to leave England chasing a mammoth 482 for victory.
The 34-year-old all-rounder shared a partnership of 96 with skipper Virat Kohli before tailenders Ishant Sharma (7) and Mohammad Siraj (16 not out) stuck around just long enough for him to reach three figures.
“In the past when I’ve made my hundreds in India, Ishy has been a cog in the wheel – he’s been with me twice so he understands how I go about it and he defends well,” said Ashwin.
“Once [last man] Siraj came in I knew I had to get it done in a few overs, but I was thrilled with the way he batted and hit the ball out of the ground towards the end!
“It was amazing to see how excited he was when I got my hundred, so that says something about the dressing room. The moment I got my hundred I was seeing everyone up there on the balcony.
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