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Ashwin will be crucial for India's stay at the top - Virat Kohli

Ravichandran Ashwin (right) holding the Test mace which was awarded after India reclaimed number one position in ICC Test rankings
Ravichandran Ashwin (right) holding the Test mace which was awarded after India reclaimed number one position in ICC Test rankings
©REUTERS / Action Images

Indian Test captain Virat Kohli admitted that the performances of Ravichandran Ashwin will play a crucial role if the team is to maintain its number one position in the longer format.

After defeating New Zealand 3-0 in the recently concluded Test series, India reclaimed the top position in the ICC rankings and they currently enjoy a lead of four points over the second placed Pakistan.

Ashwin, who took home his seventh man of the series award for his haul of 27 wickets against New Zealand, played a key role in India’s surge to the top with their recent performances.

The off-spinner also took two 10-wicket hauls in the series and he currently has a chance of breaking into the top five of India’s leading wicket-takers in Test cricket by the end of the home season.

At the post-match presentation, Kohli hoped that Ashwin can continue his form throughout the home season and help India extend their lead at the top of the Test rankings.

“It’s an exciting thing to talk about his stats out there in the middle, it’s a topic of discussion for us.

“He’s been a champion. I hope he can keep going through this long home season and keep the team at the top where we are.”

In the Kanpur Test against New Zealand, Ashwin became the second fastest bowler in the history of the game to take 200 wickets in the longer format.

Given his excellent form, Ashwin feels that his confidence is at an all-time high and added that he had to be patient in the third Test against New Zealand due to the lack of bounce.

“I feel really good about myself. I’ve been bowling really well and my confidence is really sky-high.

“It was a wicket where you had to work hard, be patient and bowl good lines.

“This wicket didn’t have a lot of bounce. It was not going to short leg or backward short leg, so I had to get them to drive.

“I got a bit of footmarks outside right-hander’s off-stump and I wanted to get them lunging outside by bowling a lot wider outside off-stump and the results are there to see.”

Currently, Ashwin needs to take 80 more wickets in 16 matches or less if he is to become the fastest player to take 300 Test scalps, a record currently held by the Australian fast bowling great, Dennis Lillee.

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