Not many spinners like to bowl on a first day’s wicket as everything is in batsmen’s favour. Most prefer to wait till the later stages when wear and tear makes it easier to turn the ball. It looked to be a similar case at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday as England were coasting along nicely in the first two sessions, after opting to bat. (SCORECARD)
But then R Ashwin is in that phase of his career when he can overcome the challenge thrown by unfavourable conditions. He provided another proof of his brilliance when he ran through the England top-order to help India seize the initiative at the end of opening day’s play. The visitors finished the day on 288 for five after being 230 for two at one stage. (HIGHLIGHTS)
Made to struggle in the first two sessions like all the other Indian bowlers, Ashwin came into his own after the tea break. The off-spinner can well create doubts in a batsman’s mind by giving the ball a rip. But the lanky bowler loves it most when there is bounce on offer.
He used it to good effect to prise out three wickets in an eight-over spell post-tea to reduce England to 249 for five from being 230 for two. After having removed star batsman Joe Root in the morning, he added Moeen Ali, Keaton Jennings and Jonny Bairstow to his wickets tally. Moeen and Bairstow failed to get on top of the bounce while going for sweep shots.
Till then, Ashwin’s spell read 21-2-55-1. At the end of his third spell, his figures read 29-3-69-4 (final figures 30-3-75-4).
“I thought the rewards for that spell came for what I did in the morning session, sorry in the afternoon session because I thought I bowled a really good spell then to (Keaton) Jennings and Moeen Ali and got (Joe) Root out in that spell. I thought that was one of the better spells of the day (and) got rewards for it as soon as I came back in the third spell,” said Ashwin. It was a period in which India conceded just 79 runs in 31 overs.
“Wankhede wicket is such that bat first, bat big. We know we were up against the odds, but we managed to pull things back in the second session,” said Ashwin, who says they know it is only about getting a couple of breakthroughs.
He was especially chuffed with Joe Root’s dismissal, getting him caught in the slip. “I must say I worked the dismissal a few times in my head because he has got out a lot of times in the slips (against spinners). He has a tendency to nick the spinners to slips. I saw him nick Dane Piedt in South Africa and, a few times against Nathan Lyon also. This is one of those wickets where edges carry to the slips. So, I was just mentally working it over and it happened.”
He described the surface similar to the one against England in 2012. “On the first day there was a little bit of moisture and then it had turned completely flat. I am expecting it to be the same this time.”