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India vs England: Ravichandran Ashwin starts series with a bang

With his overseas record in question, Ravichandran Ashwin was the most successful bowler on a Day 1 Edgbaston pitch and also helped India’s seamers kept England batsmen in a leash.

cricket Updated: Aug 02, 2018 09:21 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Birmingham
Ravichandran Ashwin,India vs England,India Cricket team
Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, right, speaks to bowler Ravichandran Ashwin during the first day of the first test cricket match between England and India at Edgbaston.(AP)

On the last tour of England in 2014, Ravichandran Ashwin had to wait until the fourth Test to even get a look in. Coming into this tour, India’s leading current bowler faced questions over his place in the eleven leave alone trying to make a mark.

The 31-year-old produced a memorable first-day show by capturing four for 60 and brilliantly combined to help India’s pace bowlers rein in England, reducing them to 285/9 at stumps at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

Last year, Ashwin had lost his place in the limited-overs side effectively after the underwhelming performances during the ICC Champions Trophy as finger spinners, including Ravindra Jadeja, lost out to wrist-spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

Ahead of the first Test, the buzz was around chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, in form during the preceding limited-overs segment than the bowler who had taken 316 wickets.

The Indian team management kept faith with the seasoned campaigner, who had resorted to bowling even leg-spin as he was seen to be fighting a way to stay relevant.

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After the first day show, Ashwin’s 25-over spell was the most by any of the five Indian bowlers and his economy rate of 2.40 the least as well. The tall spinner dealt the big blow into the ninth over, handing India their first wicket of the series.

Skipper Virat Kohli turned to Ashwin as both openers were among the seven left-handers in the England line-up. And he got Alastair Cook with a peach of a delivery in his second over --- ninth of the innings. The dip and length beat England’s leading run-getter who was beaten playing forward to be bowled.

India’s pacers struggled for consistency on a sticky pitch that was damp early on and the ball didn’t come on to the bat.

After the day’s play, Mohammed Shami, whose two quick wickets kept England from running away with the innings after lunch, acknowledged Ashwin’s role in India pegging back England.

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“The way the pitch plays, we may have gone in with two spinners. However, the way Ashwin bowled, using his experience and skill, it helped the seam bowlers so much to come back into the game and keep things tight.

“It was a great effort from him.”

Ashwin is one short of a five-wicket haul, and Virat Kohli not taking the second new ball is a testament to his confidence that his spinner will get England all out.

First Published: Aug 02, 2018 08:52 IST