Melbourne: Victoria's leading wicket-taker in the Sheffield Shield, Fawad Ahmed felt vindicated yesterday after his prediction about the nature of the Melbourne Cricket Ground wicket turned out to be spot-on.
Two days before the India vs Bangladesh clash, Ahmed had told mid-day that the wicket would benefit the spinners earlier on, and also help the spinners of the team fielding second if they could bowl smartly enough.
And he said that India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja were intelligent bowlers and apt at exploring the conditions here.
Gripping the surface
And right enough, India, who batted first yesterday, got off to a flying start before they were pegged back immediately after the introduction of spin in as early as the sixth over. The ball gripped the surface and turned, just as Fawad had said it would.
India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. Pic/Getty Images
"I know the MCG pitch like the back of my hand, after all I've got so many wickets here. It's like my second home," said the 33-year-old Melbourne resident, who came to Australia in 2010 as an asylum seeker after enduring death threats in Pakistan due to his association with an NGO there.
The leg-spinner went on to play three ODIs and two T20Is for Australia before form deserted him and he fell out of favour with the selectors.
However, currently Ahmed is back in the reckoning for a spot in the Australian team having claimed 41 wickets to take Victoria into the Sheffield Shield final against Western Australian beginning on Saturday in Hobart.
"I knew that Ashwin and Jadeja will bowl smartly in the second innings and that's exactly what they did. I think Ashwin (10-1-30-0) particularly mixed it up well and kept the Bangladeshi batsmen guessing and on the backfoot more often than not," Fawad told mid-day yesterday.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni also praised Ashwin for containing the Bangladeshi batsmen. "Ashwin bowled well and the batsmen couldn't score runs off him, so they went after the other bowlers and lost wickets. At the end of the day, Ashwin didn't get any wickets but he bowled very well," Dhoni said at the post-match press