Ravichandran Ashwin takes batting honours after Sachin Tendulkar misses out on milestone century; partner Virat Kohli raises a toast to the offie's uncluttered mind
Ravichandran Ashwin's hundred gave ample reason for the capacity crowd to stay put at the Wankhede Stadium after enduring the heartbreak of Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal. Ashwin's maiden Test century, only the 13th by an India No 8 batsman, took India from 331-6 to 482, before Pragyan Ojha's twin blow left West Indies on 81-2 at stumps on Day Four of the third and final Test yesterday. West Indies led by 189 runs with eight wickets in the bag, heading into the last day of the series.
R Ashwin in full flow at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai yesterday.
Ashwin, with two first-class centuries and seven fifties, came to the crease with India requiring a further 60 runs to avoid the follow-on, and took charge of the innings like a veteran batsman. In fact, Virat Kohli, the specialist at the other end, never hesitated to pinch singles early in an over.
Ashwin's wife Preethi at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday.
Kohli, who scored his maiden Test fifty, revealed the confidence he had in his partner. "He (Ashwin) batted brilliantly; timed the ball well. I could see standing at the other end that his mind was totally free. He was totally relaxed and pretty much sure of what he wanted to do, and reacting to the ball. The confidence of his bowling rubbed off... he just came out and started timing the ball very well. We all knew he has batting abilities," said Kohli.
Kohli and Ashwin added 97 runs for the seventh wicket. "It was good to have Ashwin scoring from the other end. I could also take my time and just get myself in to spend more time in the middle. It was a very good innings from him," added Kohli.
Ashwin joined Polly Umrigar and Vinoo Mankad as the third Indian to score a century and grab a Test fifer. His feat is only the second such instance since 2000. "He was in a good space � he has taken a lot of wickets (18) in the series. He is in a good mindset. I think getting a 100 is always special for a bowler," said Kohli.
Just like Oval
The Mumbai Test has been a run feast that has produced 11 fifty-plus scores in the first two innings -- a world record. Ashwin's century reminded some of Anil Kumble's maiden ton at The Oval in 2007 when six Indian batsmen crossed fifty, only to watch the leggie hit a century.
Ishant Sharma, who hung around for 36 balls, too played a big role in assisting Ashwin to the ton. With 34 overs left in the day, India's bowlers returned to have a crack at West Indies. After Ojha removed Adrian Barath and Kirk Edwards in the space of 11 overs, Darren Bravo and Kraigg Brathwaite added an unbeaten 51-run stand, but not before surviving a few close shaves. While Bravo was dropped on 23 by Kohli, Brathwaite was nearly caught at slip by Tendulkar. The prospect of India completing their first series-whitewash since 1993-94 (against Sri Lanka) appears bleak.