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India's Ravichandran Ashwin acknowledges the fans as he celebrates his five-wicket-haul with teammates during the fifth Test against England at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, Dharamshala, on March 9. Image Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: Ace Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Wednesday reclaimed the top spot in the ICC Men’s Test Bowling Rankings after ending his 100th Test match with a nine-wicket match haul, but his mother felt there was ‘no improvement’ from the 37-years-old despite playing for all these years.

Ashwin, who recorded nine wickets for 128 runs in his debut Test match against West Indies in 2011, coincidentally recorded the same bowling figures during the 100th Test at Dharamsala against England.

Commenting on a post on X, the champion bowler trolled himself. “No improvement after all these years of playing the game. ‘Only my mom can say things like this’,” he wrote.

Ashwin had to rush home midway during the third Test against England in Rajkot after his mother had collapsed due to a severe headache. Incidentally, it was the same day that the Engineering graduate had crossed the 500-wicket mark in Tests. The off-spinner, however rejoined the side on the fourth day of the Test and also took a wicket in the second innings as India registered a record 434-run win.

“It all kicked off on the second day, though it’s a bit blurry now,” Ashwin said in a video he posted on his official YouTube channel.

“I was on 499 wickets I think, and was hoping to reach the milestone in the second Test in Vizag, but it wasn’t to be. But on day two in Rajkot, I finally got Zak Crawley. It wasn’t a particularly great ball, but I finally got to the landmark.

“After the end of play, I had agreed to do some interviews and went to the press area. I’d just got my 500th wicket, so was expecting a call from my wife or father. I was a bit surprised not to hear from them, since it was almost 7pm. But I figured they must be busy with interviews and responding to congratulatory messages, so didn’t think much of it.

“After being unable to reach my parents, I finally got hold of my wife on the phone. Her voice was breaking. I told her I was just about to get into the shower, and she asked me to go somewhere alone, away from my teammates. She said that my mother had collapsed after a severe headache.”

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India's Ravichandran Ashwin with his wife and children poses with a momento on his 100th Test before the start of the fifth Test in Dharamsala on March 7. Image Credit: AFP

Not reachable

Ashwin said that his wife spoke to captain Rohit Sharma since the off-spinner was unreachable, possibly due to the interactions lined up after reaching the 500-wicket mark.

“I just blanked out. I don’t remember what I did, but I was crying. I didn’t know what to ask her. I didn’t want anyone to see me cry — it was an instinctive reaction. I just sat alone in my room, not knowing what to do.

“I think since I wasn’t answering my phone, my wife must have called Rohit and Dravid to tell them the news. Rohit came in, saw me thinking, and just said, ‘what are you doing? You need to leave right away. Please just pack your bags and go’,” revealed Ashwin, who thanked his skipper and Cheteshwar Pujara for their concern and help.

Head coach Dravid later lauded the spinner’s commitment. “Ash coming back after what he’d gone through … for me, it really signified what this team is about and what the character of this team is. “That was for me probably the standout moment of the series and really gladdens your heart as a coach.”

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India's Ravichandran Ashwin receives a Guard of Honour by his teammates on his 100th Test match. Image Credit: ANI

No 1 spot

Ashwin, who put on a scintillating performance with the ball (4/51 and 5/77) in the fifth match of the series against England, snatched the No 1 spot from his teammate pacer Jasprit Bumrah to start his sixth stint at the top of the rankings. He first became No 1 in December 2015.

Meanwhile, the Player of the Match in the Dharamshala Test, Kuldeep Yadav has jumped 15 places to a career-best 16th position after finishing with seven wickets in the game.

On the other hand, in the batters rankings, India skipper Sharma has up five places to 6th place and Shubman Gill jumped 11 places to a career-best 20th spot. Meanwhile, India opener Yashasvi Jaiswal has moved up two places to eighth place after securing a half-century.

England players Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow have moved up a slot each in the batting rankings while spinner Shoaib Bashir has progressed 11 places to the 71st position.

Australia completed a 2-0 series win over New Zealand in Christchurch to take second place behind India in the WTC table and Alex Carey’s match-winning 98 not out sees him go up from 50th to 38th place.

Aussie seamer Josh Hazlewood continued his top form in the series against the Kiwis and finished it with six wickets in the 2nd match and moved to second position behind Ashwin.

Kiwi bowler Matt Henry’s superb first innings figures of 7/67 helped him up six places to 12th place and is also up to sixth among all-rounders.

Australian Mitchell Marsh (up eight places to 55th) and New Zealand players Tom Latham (up six places to 35th) and Rachin Ravindra (up 10 places to 66th) are others to move up the batting rankings.

In the Men’s ODI Rankings, Afghanistan’s Rahmanullah Gurbaz advanced from 24th to 22nd place after his stupendous performance against Ireland in the 50-over series.

Ibrahim Zadran (up three places to 14th among batters) and Fazalhaq Farooqi (up 10 places to 41st among bowlers) have also gained in the latest update.

— With inputs from agencies