Ashwin’s success in T20 cricket earned him a call-up to the national side – ODI firsts and inevitably the Tests in 2011-12. He was a part of the winning squad in the 2011 World Cup, but rarely got a chance ahead of Harbhajan Singh. But, Ashwin kept on building a phenomenal body of work and his rapid development as a bowler coincided with Harbhajan’s fading fortunes.
Ashwin took nine wickets in his maiden Test against West Indies, the second-highest by an Indian debutant after Narendra Hirwani’s 16, and won the Man-of-the-Match award. It only got better from there: he registered nine five-fors in his first 16 Tests and in 2013, broke Erapalli Prasanna’s Indian record for the fastest to 100 Test wickets by reaching the landmark in his 18th game.
His carrom ball, an arm ball just as good, his control over his offbreaks, and a sharp brain has made Ashwin a quintessential limited-overs spinner. In Test cricket, however, he endured a brief period of struggle after not being able to replicate his success in subcontinental conditions overseas. In December 2013, Ashwin went wicketless for 36 overs in Johannesburg as India failed to bowl out South Africa, who nearly accomplished a chase of 458 in over four-and-a-half-sessions. He was made to sit out for six Tests after that, and when India went to Australia in late 2014, he was not picked for the first Test in Adelaide.
Ashwin, however, effected minor tweaks to his bowling, mainly zeroing in on a comfortable action, and recaptured his glorious form to finish with 31 wickets in India’s 3-0 series win against South Africa at home in November-December 2015. An opener with the bat before he took up offspin, Ashwin is more than a handy lower-order batsman: he is correct, has the shots and scored two Test centuries. He had a decent outing in the 2016 World T20, but in a crucial moment in the semi-final, he overstepped and reprieved the dangerous Lendl Simmons, paving the way for West Indies’ win and India’s exit.
In the IPL, with the Super Kings having been suspended for two years, Ashwin was picked up by Rising Pune Super Giants in the 2016 player draft for INR 7.5 crore.