After India head coach Rahul Dravid presented Ravichandran Ashwin with his 100th Test cap, Ashwin reiterated the importance of prioritising, even as the popularity of Twenty20 cricket continues to rise.

“Test cricket teaches you a lot of things that life wouldn’t teach you,” said Ashwin after the cap was presented to him.

“It will teach you adaptability, playing with pressure, so on and so forth. All of those things will keep you in great stead if you decided to go all the way in this game.”

In India’s fifth and final Test match of the home series against England last week, Ashwin went all the way indeed.

On Saturday, as India defeated England by an innings and 64 runs in Dharamshala in three days to seal the series 4-1, Ashwin not only played a key role in India’s victory, but also created a memorable record in his landmark Test.

He took his 36th five-wicket haul to surpass Anil Kumble for the most five-fors by an Indian in Test cricket.

He is now tied for third most five-fors in Tests with Richard Hadlee (36), and trails only Muttiah Muralitharan (67) and Shane Warne (37).

The off-spinner returned figures of 5/77 to help bowl out England for 195 after India posted a mammoth 477.

He began by rocking England’s top and middle-order after the tourists began their innings 259 runs behind and lost five wickets for 103 runs by lunch.

Ashwin had struck in his first over as opener Ben Duckett danced down the track, but completely missed the line. The ball eventually dipped and went past the inside edge to hit the off-stump.

Zak Crawley did nothing out of the ordinary, but the pressure of dot balls and the dismissal of his opening partner had gotten to him.

He took a stride to an off-break and attempted to flick with the turn. Off the thick inner edge, Sarfaraz Khan at short leg took an easy catch.

His third victim was Ollie Pope, whose sweep and reverse sweep shots were the talk of the town after his innings of 196 in the first Test at Hyderabad and a big reason for why the ‘Bazball’ style of play was finding traction in India.

Pope had tried to sweep for the first time in the game and paid the price for that instantly. The length Ashwin bowled was short and clearly not ideal for sweeping, but Pope still took it on and got a large piece of the top-edge to the left of square leg, where Yashasvi Jaiswal took a beautiful running catch.

Kuldeep Yadav, in the first innings, had already warned the English batters that it would be spin that might prove to be their undoing in this match. Yadav (5/72) had combined with Ashwin (4/51) to dismiss them for a paltry 288 in the first innings. Ravindra Jadeja’s scalp of Joe Root meant that the Indian spinners had taken all 10 English wickets in the first innings.

In the second innings, Ashwin had resounded that warning early in the day too. With England reduced to 36/3 in 9.2 overs, he wasn’t done yet.

At the stroke of lunch, he bowled skipper Ben Stokes for two, taking down the England captain for the 13th time in Tests. He bowled the slider and Stokes lunged to defend, leaving the gate open for the ball to hit the middle and off-stump.

It was in the post-lunch session that Ashwin made history, picking up his ninth wicket in the match and his 36th five-wicket haul in Tests.

Ben Foakes tried an uncharacteristically rash slog-sweep and missed it completely. Ashwin had bowled a few carrom balls and a few tight ones, but he finally tossed one up to tease the batter and it ended up crashing into middle and leg.

This was a milestone Test with a new record for Ashwin. But the entire series proved to be a memorable one for the 37-year-old from Chennai.

He had picked up 500 Test wickets in Rajkot and become only the second Indian to reach the landmark. In the series overall, he picked up 26 wickets at an average of 24.81 with two five-wicket hauls and a four-wicket haul.

Ashwin, a big believer of evolving with changing trends in cricket, credited his success to varying his bowling throughout the series.

“I have gone to different actions, speeds and releases,” he explained in the post-match press conference.

“India is different, each ground has a challenge. I was really happy with the way the ball came out, most pleased with this performance and the second innings in Ranchi. In India sometimes the beauty is what’s gone by.

“I have kept my ears and eyes open to listen to good feedback. Unless I try I will never be able to learn. Thankfully experimenting and learning has helped me.”

The series was about a lot of ups for Ashwin, but during the Rajkot Test, he had to withdraw to be with his ailing mother on the second day of the Test. He, however, dealt with his personal life and rejoined the Indian team in Rajkot on the fourth day of the Test against England.

“A lot happened between 500 and 501,” wrote his wife Preethi Ashwin on Instagram, after he picked up his 500th wicket and temporarily withdrew from the match. “Longest 48 hours of our lives. But this is about the 500. And the 499 before that.”

In his 100-Test long career, Ashwin has displayed resilience and the ability to come back even as his place in the team was questioned. A lot of times, his role as the first choice spinner overseas has come into doubt. And many a times, batting depth takes precedence.

However, for his willingness to learn, ability to adapt, acknowledging the need to evolve and prioritising the format, Ashwin has also been rewarded.

“Test cricket will give you a lot of dividends for whatever work you put into it,” Ashwin had said before he went on to pick the five-for in the Dharamsala Test.

“I really hope a lot more people take up this sport and keep this wonderful format flying really high.”

His 100th Test was a reminder that Ashwin was one of those who, indeed, earned the dividends for putting in the work.