Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Ravichandran Ashwin, the spin bowling all-rounder and leading strike bowler of India has delivered, when it mattered most. Ashwin bagged a rich haul of 6 of the 7 wickets that were to fall on the first day of the ongoing Chennai cricket test match against Australia.
Earlier, Michael Clarke has won a crucial toss for the Aussies and the OZ threatened to run away with the game(albeit temporarily), before Ashwin took charge. Ed Cowan and Dave Warner gave them a solid opening stand of 64 before Cowan was stumped off Ashwin. He could have dismissed Warner cheaply, had Sehwag not dropped a sitter. The first day’s play also marked a brilliant century by Michael-call-him-PUP-Clarke, who held the Australian innings together after Ashwin ripped through the Aussie middle order. Pup remained unbeaten on 103, at stumps on day one.
Ashwin has been criticized for a sudden and an astonishing slump in form, managing a lowly 14 wickets in a 4 match series against England at home. He failed to create an impression against Cook & co, as they rattled India In Mumbai and Kolkata test matches. The meek surrender of Indian bowlers to the likes of KP, Chef(Alastair Cook) in particular, was unpalatable and critics worked overtime in branding Ashwin as the wrecker-in-chief and a overhyped bowler, for he spearheaded the Indian spin bowling.
Even if it is my last Test match I will be happy, I said to myself
It has to remembered that England was at the top of their game and both KP and Chef fired big time. Cooky, in particular was leading from the front and was responsible for a sweet away victory in difficult sub-continental conditions. In fact, Ashwin and Ojha combined well to begin with a resounding victory in the series opener against England. But English men quickly sorted out their problems and pulled out a trump card in Monty Panesar, who spun the masterful Indian batsmen into tizzy, in their backyard.
Both Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha didn’t have anything to bowl at and the Englishmen cleverly cashed in on with some unorthodox stroke play. KP, in particular unleashed his trademark shots to force Indians into submission. The Mumbai test shattered the confidence of Indians and what followed in Kolkata was mayhem. Indeed Ashwin didn’t expect the kind of onslaught, the pommies unleashed on India and looked dazed at times. He tried all his variations( which many thought was an overkill, instead of the time-tested line & length bowling), bowled his heart out, but was proved inadequate.
He however, seems to have sorted all his inhibitions and come back stronger in the current series against Australia and operated on a nagging line & length. The most noticeable aspect, being the nip & purchase he obtained from the first day track at MAC stadium, Chennai. Barring, Ashwin, other spinners (including Harbhajan Singh) failed to impress, which speaks volumes about the ability & determination of this Chennai lad. People say, the game of cricket is a great leveler and everyone goes through a bad patch, every now and then. However, it all depends on how quickly and how diligently, you get over your mental blocks to be able to get back into the reckoning.
Ashwin, seems to have crossed that mental barrier, (though one performance doesn’t speak enough) and come back into his own. This match hangs in balance, but India does have the home advantage. If they can bundle out Aussies below 350 in the first essay, they stand a great chance of winning the test match and put the first step in avenging the 4-0 drubbing in Australia.
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