Mumbai Test: When Ravichandran Ashwin turned up on time for India
Off-spinner's three-wicket burst in final session thwarts England on Day One of the fourth Test at Wankhede
India captain Virat Kohli (left) and R Ashwin celebrate the wicket of England's Jonny Bairstow during Day One of the fourth Test at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai yesterday. Pic/AFP
After losing the toss and seeing 196-2 on the board at tea, the Indians were definitely a happier lot reducing England to 288-5 at stumps on Day One of the fourth Test here at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday.
Bolstered by debutant Keaton Jennings' 112 — which saw a 99-run first wicket partnership with captain Alastair Cook (46) and then another 94-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Moeen Ali (50), England were cruising along before India's premier offie Ravichandran Ashwin applied the brakes with an impressive 8-1-14-3 spell in the third session.
Ashwin, in fact, removed Moeen and centurion Jennings in a span of two deliveries to turn the match on its head. He bowled beautifully through the day, testing the Englishmen's skills of tackling spin on a track that helped the slower bowlers. And though he bagged three wickets in the third spell, he regarded his spell between lunch and tea as the more satisfying one.
"The reward in the third session came for what I did in the afternoon session when I thought I bowled really well to Jennings and Ali. I got Joe Root out in that spell which was a big wicket. I got the reward for that as soon as I came for the third spell," said Ashwin, before going on to explain how he planned Root's dismissal before actually executing it on the ground. "I thought about Root's dismissal in my head. He has got out many times in the slips and has a tendency to snick spinners there.
I have seen him snick Dane Piedt in South Africa and he has done that quite a few times to Nathan Lyon as well. This is one of the Test pitches (of the three we have played so far) where edges do carry to slips. I was just mentally working it over and it happened," he added. Ashwin's plan worked as there was a lot of assistance for the spinners with turn and bounce from the first session onwards, giving the impression that the match is unlikely to go the distance.
But Ashwin, who featured in the last India-England encounter at the same venue when the home team was bowled out for 327 in the first innings after Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann picked up nine wickets, believed that the wicket, in all probability, will change for the better as the game progresses. "When we played England the last time, the first morning was actually damp and it spun," he said.
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