Local hero Ravichandran Ashwin was the only positive to come out for Team India on the first day of the opening Test against Australia at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here yesterday.
The off-spinner single-handedly reduced the tourists to 153 for five and then ended debutant Moises Henriques’ stay at the crease to end the day with figures of six for 88. Ravindra Jadeja scalped Mitchell Starc to end Ashwin’s dream of claiming all 10 wickets in an innings just like India’s legendary leggie Anil Kumble — vs Pakistan in New Delhi, 1999.
“I would be lying if I say that I wasn’t thinking about Kumble’s 10 wickets (in an innings). The way things were going since the morning, the way the ball was coming out of my hand, I thought okay… actually it’s a real possibility here. But in between, I had an injury on my finger and I had to go off the field. That took the momentum out a bit,” Ashwin said while reflecting on the day’s play.
Though Ashwin had a fantastic day, he would consider himself unlucky when umpire Kumar Dharmasena turned down a vociferous appeal of Australian skipper Michael Clarke’s bat-pad chance to Cheteshwar Pujara at forward short-leg. David Warner was lucky on a couple of occasions off Ashwin’s bowling with Virender Sehwag dropping a sitter at slips and skipper MS Dhoni missing a tough stumping chance.
Dhoni, however, made no mistake in stumping Ed Cowan — Ashwin’s first victim. The second wicket arrived soon — Phil Hughes lasting 15 uncomfortable balls for six before edging Ashwin onto his stumps. Ashwin, shortly after the lunch interval, dismissed Shane Watson for 28, trapping him on the back foot. Warner (59) was deceived by a quicker delivery.
He had his fifth wicket when Matthew Wade played down the wrong line and was adjudged LBW. Ashwin dedicated his super performance to coach Sunil Subramaniam. “I spent a few hours with him after the England (ODI) series. I was bowling alright against England. It is because of him (Subramaniam) that I got my rhythm back,” said Ashwin.
Coach Subramaniam told MiD DAY he worked on the landing of Ashwin’s left foot. “We worked for five to six sessions before the Australia series. His left foot wasn’t landing correctly. We fixed that. He did well today and will bowl better in the series with time,” said Subramaniam.