IND vs AUS: Ravichandran Ashwin rises Down Under

Updated: Dec 08, 2018, 12:14 IST | Gaurav Joshi

Learning from previous two Oz tours, off-spinner uses right pace and perfect length to deceive Australian batsmen

IND vs AUS: Ravichandran Ashwin rises Down Under
India's chief spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (right), Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Murali Vijay (left) appeal against Australia’s Usman Khawaja on Day Two of the first Test at the Adelaide Oval yesterday. Pic/Getty Images

Ravichandran Ashwin is an intelligent man who thinks a lot about this bowling. In the lead-up to the match, he would have noticed that four out of the top six Australian batsmen are left-handers. So, the day before the Test, he asked Parthiv Patel to pad up and spent over an hour bowling to the wicketkeeper batsman. He bowled around the wicket with the old and new ball.

He also experimented with various angles and asked Patel for his inputs. Then yesterday, out in the middle of the Adelaide Oval, Ashwin put all the practice into perfect use by ending Day Two with figures of 33-9-50-3. The fast bowlers had laid the foundation for Ashwin by putting the clamps on the Australian top order.

The strong breeze blowing across the ground also allowed Ashwin to drift the ball into the left-handers. Bowling around the wicket, he dismissed Marcus Harris with a ball that floated towards the batsman in the last part of the journey to kiss the inside edge on to the pad before being lapped up by Murali Vijay at silly point. For a bowler who had struggled to come to grips with Australian pitches on previous occasions, the early wicket seemed to lift Ashwin's confidence.

He found the right pace, used the crease to deceive the batsmen with various angles and landed the ball on a perfect length. According to Cricviz data, only 22 per cent of Ashwin's balls were pitched on a full length, compared to 33 per cent on his last tour of Australia in 2014-15. More than 50 per cent of his balls had been delivered at over 87 mph. In the 2014-15 tour, he preferred to bowl at a slower pace and struggled to have an impact. Ashwin bowled a long 22-over spell either side of lunch and took three wickets conceding 38 runs yesterday. The wicket of well-set batsman Usman Khawaja summed up the offie's brilliance.

Bowling around the wicket, the ball drifted in, pitched on the middle stump and dipped alarmingly. It then spun to hit Khawaja's right thumb as he tried to negotiate the delivery with a firm front foot defence. It was the ball that Ashwin was trying to execute in the nets sessions before the Test. "I have come here on two tours now. Last time, I did pretty well and I was very confident. That's where my whole turning phase started as a bowler. So, I was pretty confident coming here [this time]," he said.

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