Sri Lankan spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan believes Ravinchandran Ashwin can break his record tally of 800 wickets in Test cricket. Heaping praise on his former CSK team-mate, Muralitharan said the Tamil Nadu off-spinner's record overseas would only improve over time given his temperament.
Ashwin upstaged Muralitharan as the second-fastest bowler to reach 200 Test wickets during the first Test against New Zealand in Kanpur recently. The Sri Lankan had reached the milestone in 42 Tests, while it took Ashwin only 37 Tests to get there.
Murali feels both Ashwin and Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah have the ability to break his all-time record.
"Records are meant only to be broken. I feel both (Yasir and Ashwin) -going by the current form -can go for my record. Getting there would depend on their longevity, fitness and form," Murali told the Times of India.
"Firstly, Ashwin always had the basics in place, was willing to learn and get better at his craft. Secondly, like any bowler of international repute, Ashwin has learned the art of remaining patient in order to get the wickets. He is ready to bide his time and work his way through in order to outdo the batsman," the spin great explained.
The 44-year-old is of the opinion that English county cricket experience would help in Ashwin becoming a complete bowler.
"I had the opportunity to play county cricket which helped me understand the conditions better in England. When I got to play Tests against England, I knew the areas to bowl at. May be, Ashwin too would do well if he plays county as that's the perfect platform to learn how to bowl on wickets that traditionally assists the faster bowlers," Murali said.
"If you have taken 810 wickets on pitches that assist spin, you would end up getting lesser purchase on wickets that are pacer-friendly, but you still are the team's premium bowler. Ashwin is experienced enough to know the areas he has to work on and come up trumps.
"Ashwin's confidence is sky-high and as an all-rounder he is able to contribute with the bat and ball. He has scored those crucial runs whenever the team needed him arriving lower down the order, and that's a big plus for his team. Ashwin has been able to replicate his batting form in his bowling and vice-versa."