Ravi Ashwin has said sorry to Harbhajan Singh for being better than him.
The India off spinner made his apology to his fellow off spinner after taking the wicket of Ben Stokes with a beautiful delivery on the second day of the second Test against England in Chennai.
By cleaning up the aggressive left-hander with a ball that drifted into his legs before dipping and turning past his outside edge to clip his off stump, Ashwin went past Harbharjan’s total of 265 wickets taken on Indian soil.
After another five-wicket haul – his 29th in Test cricket – Ashwin now has 268 wickets at home. Anil Kumble has the highest number of wickets in India – 350.
Ashwin, whose sensational hundred on the third day at No 8 added to his legend, said he could never have dreamt of going past his hero when he was emerging as a batsman at junior level before making the transformation to spin bowling.
“When I was watching the 2001 series where Bhajju Pa [Harbhajan] was playing, I didn’t even imagine that I would go out and become an off-spinner for the country,” he said.
“I was still a batsman for my state, trying to accelerate a career towards batting and playing for the country; I wasn’t sure whether I would go on and become a player for the Indian team.
“Lots of my team-mates from that age, from that generation, you know, used to make fun of me, because I used to bowl like Bhajju Pa, my action, I used to try and bowl like him and all that.
“So, from there on to come on and actually break the record of something that he possesses, has to be incredibly special. I didn’t know of it, now that I do know of it, I feel happy. Sorry, Bhajju Pa.”
Maybe Ashwin’s performance with the bat was his own little guilty tribute to Harbhajan. The Turbanator as he is affectionately known, stuck both his Test hundreds from No 8 and, in his own attacking and inimitable style, picked up nine other fifties – four of them against Australia – in his 103-match career.