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HindustanTimes Sat,02 Aug 2014
Young Ashwin has a veteran spinner's mind
Sanjay Manjrekar
March 23, 2013
First Published: 00:15 IST(23/3/2013)
Last Updated: 00:17 IST(23/3/2013)

Australia won another important toss but as has been the feature of their cricket through this series, they failed to cash in. But in this case there is a chance that their bowlers might bail them out.

Although the pitch has played a lot better than it has looked, it is a pitch that is potentially wicket-taking for the seamers as well.

So far, the seamers from both sides have been a pleasant surprise by making the odd impact in the series where pitches have been loaded in favour of the spinners. This is one surface where, it seems, to make it spin-friendly, the curator may have gone slightly overboard and left something in there for the faster bowlers to exploit.

By picking three seamers, Australia have made a smart selection. Given the conditions, the India batsmen would fancy playing a Xavier Doherty any day rather than a Mitchell Johnson. It will be interesting to see how Day Two pans out and how the Australia seamers go on this Kotla pitch.

Like it has been, virtually every day in this series, R Ashwin was again the star with the ball. His increasing maturity, evident with every passing game, is brilliant to see. On Friday, when he saw that the pitch had a rough look to it, he looked to bowl a flatter trajectory.

He was letting the pitch do most of the work here than he had ever in the series, showing that he had assessed the pitch well. For one so young in his Test career, this is a veteran spinner's mind at work.

After learning the hard lessons against England, he is not going to repeat the mistake of trying too many variations. Guess what's happening because of that, fewer carrom balls are getting bowled in this series than against England, but it's making a greater impact.

Ashwin's carrom ball in this series has become exactly what it should be, a surprise delivery, as Mitchell Johnson found out.

The writer is a former India batsman
PMG


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