Ashwin poised to smash Lillee's record

India's off-spinner set to find himself atop one of Test cricket's most elite lists

India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin needs only to walk safely onto the field in today's first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle to smash a record that has stood for 36 years.  

The series opener will be Ashwin's 50th Test, and the wily tweaker has already captured more wickets than any bowler in history at that point in their career.

Currently Australian Dennis Lillee is the best at the half-century mark, having claimed 262 wickets at 23.40, narrowly ahead of South African firebrand Dale Steyn, who had 260 victims at 22.91 at the same point.

Ashwin's tally stands at 275 wickets in 49 Tests to date. Earlier this year, he became the fastest in Test history to the 250-wicket mark, achieved in 45 matches and another record taken from Australian legend Lillee.

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And with just 25 wickets needed to reach 300, he looks set to steal the 'fastest to 300' record from the Aussie as well, provided he can manage them in his next six Tests (Lillee's 300 came from 56 Tests).

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India came from behind to win their last Test series in Sri Lanka 2-1, ending a 22-year Test drought on the island nation, and they are hot favourites to succeed this time around as well.

"In 2015 I think we were sandwiched in the middle of a leadership takeover," Ashwin reflected this week.

"Virat (Kohli) had just taken over (as captain) in Australia and we came here having played one Test in Bangladesh.

"We had set ourselves a lot of goals for each other and I would say we have achieved them and come out with flying colours over the last couple of years as a group.

"We have produced a lot of good cricketers. Some young cricketers have come in and put their hands up and some others have excelled really. That includes me, (Ravindra) Jadeja, 'Puji' (Cheteshwar Pujara)."

Most wickets after 50 Tests

Dennis Lillee (Aus) 262 at 23.40

Dale Steyn (SA) 260 at 22.91

Allan Donald (SA) 251 at 22.12

Muthiah Muralidaran (SL) 245 at 26.37

Waqar Younis (Pak) 244 at 22.07

Malcolm Marshall (WI) 239 at 21.42

Richard Hadlee (NZ) 235 at 23.94

Shane Warne (Aus) 235 at 23.72

Glenn McGrath (Aus) 234 at 22.77

*Ravi Ashwin enters his 50th Test with 275 wickets