Dubai: Star India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has ended 2015 as the number one Test bowler and all-rounder in the ICC rankings issued on Thursday on the back of his strong showing against South Africa in the recent home series.
Ashwin, who took 62 wickets in nine Tests this year including 31 scalps in the four matches against South Africa, became the first India bowler since Bishen Bedi in 1973 to achieve the milestone of finishing the year on top.
In fact, Bedi, an ICC Hall of Famer, is the only India bowler to ever top the Test bowling table, while Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, Kapil Dev and Anil Kumble peaked at number-two during their careers.
The 29-year-old Indian also ended the year as top-ranked Test all-rounder, which he achieved for the second time in three years.
Ashwin achieved the number-one spot among Test bowlers for first time in his career after injury prevented South African Dale Steyn from bowling more than 3.5 overs in England's second innings in the Durban Test.
Steyn had started the Durban Test leading Ashwin by four points and now trails the India off-spinner by the same margin. Even though the fast bowler bagged four wickets in the first innings, these were not enough for him to end the year as the number-one ranked bowler for the sixth time since 2009.
Ashwin's successful season was reflected in his ranking after he started the year in 15th position and slowly but surely moved to the top of the chart.
"Finishing the year as the number-one ranked Test bowler is like an icing on the cake that I have managed to build over the past last 12 months. I always wanted to get there one day. There can't be a better way to finish the 2015," Ashwin said, reacting to the news.
"Replicating what Mr Bedi did is something I am very proud of. The former India captain was a master at his craft and I am very humbled to follow in his footsteps.
"I would like to thank my Test captain Virat Kohli, who has been a big influence, and, of course, the team management, my team-mates and the BCCI for their continued support," said Ashwin.
Another Indian Ravindra Jadeja, who also had an impressive outing against the South Africans, ended the year at sixth. Ashwin and Jadeja are the only two Indians in the top 10 rankings of the Test bowlers.
Meanwhile, Ajinkya Rahane ended at 11th among Test batsmen and he is the only Indian in the top 20.
ICC TEST PLAYER RANKINGS (as on 31 December, after Durban and Melbourne Tests)