Sydney: Despite losing Virat Kohli early on Day Four, the Indian tail led by Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha and Bhuvneshwar Kumar managed to reduce Australia’s first innings lead to 97 runs. It was an admirable performance and with Ashwin removing David Warner off a sharp spinning delivery for just six, the Indians all of a sudden looked pumped.
Ashwin clinched his fists at the dismissal since he sensed a small opportunity. The ball was spinning and bouncing. He had to bowl to two lesser players of spin in Chris Rogers and Shane Watson. The lead was only 100.
With the wicket aiding turn, it was a chance to keep it simple. Bowl on and about off-stump and let the pitch play its role. But then, Ashwin bowled an over that he would regret. Having watched a ball turn sharply, he pitched one on the line of leg stump, then went far too full and then followed it up with a short ball. It cost him eight runs. Next ball, he bowled on leg to be worked through the vacant leg side. Next ball, Watson slogged him for four. The over went for 13 runs and the pressure was off. To make it even worse, a simple run out was missed and Australia had the ascendancy.
Unfair to blame Ashwin
But it is unfair to blame Ashwin totally. From the other end, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s pace was down again and with the ball turning, India’s decision not to play the second spinner was proving costly.
With the Australian batsmen pummelling the Indian pacers, Kohli turned to part-time off-spinner Suresh Raina with the score 86 for two. In the next seven overs, with the spin pair bowling in tandem, Australia only managed to add 19 runs. More than five chances were created and with a small amount of luck another couple of wickets could have fallen.
But lack of support for Ashwin was evident at the press conference, where the offie stated, “we have to admit it. When we picked up wickets, we kept on leaking 15-16 runs from the other end. That wasn’t helping the cause.”
Perhaps for the first time in the series, India had let an opportunity slip with the ball.