“Best cricket match of my life!!,” is how R Ashwin summed up the second Test of the India-Australia series. That’s some saying from a man who has played 47 Tests, taken 25 five-wicket hauls and seven ten-wicket hauls and taken 269 wickets. But then again, would you find another match where Ashwin picked up six wickets, in a must win match, against a quality opposition.
But that is exactly how dramatic the second Test was on Day 4. India suffered yet another collapse to concede six wickets in 36 runs and threw away the advantage they had worked hard to build a day prior. With that, India had put Australia in to bat and handed a competitive target of 188 runs. Only four times has a visiting team scored more in the fourth innings in India and gone on to win. So the target was a tough one but not an impossible one when Australia came on to bat around noon local time.
What followed was something India have done time and again – dismiss opposition in a flurry with the spinners wreaking havoc. In this case, the havoc was created by all four bowlers concerned but one stood tallest. Moreover, the target to defend created bit of nervousness in the back of the mind as well, not to forget series being on the line.
Ashwin rode all those factors to finish with 6/41 next to his name. There was plenty of variation in his bowling and the Ashwin that was expected to cause plenty of problems for Australia was back in its full pomp and show – much to the visitor’s dismay. As he picked up the wicket of his compatriot Nathan Lyon in the 36th over, India had triumphed. In the near 13 overs he bowled, Ashwin barely bowled any loose deliveries and kept his line wicket-to-wicket while also getting the ball to turn significantly to keep that doubt in the back of the batsman’s mind. He started with the wicket of David Warner and added Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade and Mitchell Starc along the way in three catches by close-in players, a leg before, a bowled and then a caught and bowled to finish things off.
# With his 25th fifer, Ashwin has become the quickest to the milestone (47 matches) ahead of Richard Hadlee (62) and Muttiah Muralitharan (63). Among Indian bowlers, Anil Kumble took 86 matches and Harbhajan Singh took 93 matches.
# Ashwin went beyond Bishan Singh Bedi’s wickets tally in Tests. He now has 269 wickets to his name – three more than Bedi. He now has Zaheer Khan (311), Harbhajan Singh (417), Kapil Dev (434) and Anil Kumble (619) to beat.
# Four bowlers – including Ashwin – finished with six wickets in this Test: Lyon, Jadeja and Hazlewood. This is the first instance of this record in Test cricket history.