R Ashwin: Happy to be bowling again

Updated: Oct 13, 2019, 13:09 IST | PTI |

R Ashwin, the best Indian bowler on display with 4-69 in SA's first innings score of 275, says he wasn't frustrated with a century-run stand between Maharaj and Philander as hosts take a massive 326-run lead in Pune

R Ashwin celebrates after taking the wicket of South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj on Day Three of the second Test at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Saturday. Pic/AFP
R Ashwin celebrates after taking the wicket of South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj on Day Three of the second Test at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Saturday. Pic/AFP

Pune: Tailenders Keshav Maharaj and Vernon Philander set an example of gutsy batsmanship as South Africa fought hard against a quality attack but could not stop India from taking a massive 326-run lead on the third day of the second Test here.

While a total of 275 in 105.4 overs is far from India's mammoth first innings total of 601, the 109-run ninth wicket stand between Philander (44 not out) and an injured Maharaj (72) showed what the top-order could have done. It will be interesting to see if India captain Virat Kohli enforces a follow on or give his bowlers more rest before unleashing them, eyeing a series-clinching victory.

Proteas fight back

The duo ducked the bouncers, defended doggedly and attacked the loose deliveries as the Indian bowling attack suddenly lacked answers during the final session of the third day, which certainly belonged to the Proteas.

Coming together at 162 for eight, Philander-Maharaj pair not only had a century- plus stand but more importantly consumed 43.1 overs, taking away a lot of second innings overs from India.

Ashwin, who had the best figures of four for 69 in 28.4 overs, said he wasn't "frustrated" for once during the century-plus stand between Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj as he is just happy to be bowling again in a Test match rather than cooling his heels in the reserves.

First-choice spinner?

Ashwin is no longer India's first-choice spinner even in Test cricket and it was understandable when the cocky Tamil Nadu tweaker gave a cheeky reply to a question on the resilience shown by the South African tail on the third day of the second Test here on Saturday. "I don't get frustrated and don't want to get frustrated either as I am happy to be bowling again. Whoever bats again, I am happy to keep bowling at them," Ashwin said.

He also lauded the fighting ninth wicket stand between the lower-order batsmen. "I think the myth of tailenders is over-stated. Nowadays, nobody is really a mug with the bat. In our team also, we bat pretty well till No 11," he said.

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