People look at that and say look it’s just a straight one: Atherton picks 'ball of the game' from Ahmedabad Test
With as many as 28 of the 30 wickets to fall to spin, it can get difficult to judge one ball that stood out in the match.
The third Test between India and England in Ahmedabad lasted less than two days. Spinners had a field day with India left-arm spinner Axar Patel and off-spinner R Ashwin running through the England batting order and bowling them out for 112 and 81 in the two innings. England captain Joe Root couldn't do much with the bat but tangled a web around the Indian batsmen to claim his maiden first-class five-wicket haul.
With as many as 28 of the 30 wickets to fall to spin, it can get difficult to judge one ball that stood out in the match, especially given how every ball gripped and turned and had something special about it on the turning Ahmedabad surface. But former England captain Michael Atherton has revealed his pick for the 'ball of the Test', giving that honour to Ashwin for his dismissal of Ollie Pope in the second innings.
Ashwin bowled Pope twice in the Test match, but the dismissal is the second innings, where Pope failed to read the line of the ball and was castled with a straighter one that easily beat him. It was a classic dismissal, one that promises to be cherished by Ashwin.
"I thought that the wicket of Pope… the way he got Pope out in the second innings, for me that was the ball of the game. People look at that and say ‘look it’s just a straight ball. What’s the problem?’ But a couple of balls before he really spun one that virtually had gone to leg slip over Pope’s left shoulder and that was a deliberately bowled straight ball. He kind of under-cut it and it was an absolutely beautiful bit of bowling," Atherton said on Sky Sports Cricket.
Pope, who was not part of the initial Test squad, was added after clearing a fitness Test. However, the promising 23-year-old has struggled to get going in the series, managing scores of 34, 28, 22, 12, 1 and 12 in the three Tests so far.
"I felt for Ollie Pope. He’s really short of form and rhythm and flow. And he’s coming up against one of the greats. I think Ashwin is the second-fastest to 400 wickets, isn’t he? One of the greats on a challenging surface. That was a very tough examination but a beautiful delivery to get him out," Atherton added.
While there has been plenty of talk about the nature of the pitch, Atherton reckons it's not the pitch alone that has troubled the batsmen but a combination of certain elements put together.
"The other layer of difficulty that we struggle to appreciate sometimes is DRS. I think DRS makes it a much more difficult game now for batsmen, on these kinds of surfaces where some are spinning and some are not. You’ve got to keep your pads out of the way. Umpires give many more LBWs now. All those extra modes of dismissal are in play. You throw all these factors in the mix, the pitch, the lacquer of the ball, DRS, the lack of confidence," Atherton pointed out.