India’s striker bowler Ravichandran Ashwin feels that the current Wankhede pitch is pretty similar to the one on which they lost to England four years back.
“When we played (against) England last here, the morning of the first day wicket was a bit damp, it spun a little and it was absolutely flat on day 2 and 3. I see very similar traits here. We got out of jail and got to 330-340 the last time we played them here,” said the off spinner after England had ended the day at 288 for 5.
“If we could have got one more wicket, we were on the course to do that (it would have been better), but probably we will come out tomorrow morning and try and snap couple of wickets and see how quickly we can stall their innings,” said the off-spinner, who grabbed 3 for 14 in a fantastic post-tea spell with his final analysis for the day being for 4 for 75. Ashwin seemed satisfied with his post tea spell.
“I thought the rewards for that spell came for what I did 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. 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,” he said.
Ashwin said that Indian bowlers failed to capitalise on the early morning moisture available from Wankhede track.
“Generally, Wankhede has been a big bat first and score big kind of a Test match always, so we knew that it will be up against the odds, generally there is some moisture in the morning and we wanted to capitalise on it and we couldn’t unfortunately.
“But the afternoon session wasn’t all that bad because we actually gave 90 odd (79) runs and took only one wicket obviously, but that was a big wicket, we got Root. We thought a couple of wickets together (in the last session) if we could patch it up and try and finish the day with four or five down, be nice, it would be nice to finish on six down actually,” he added.
Ashwin said that the dismissal of Joe Root was a well-planned one, something on which he had worked a lot.
“I must say, I reworked that dismissal in my head, because he has got out a lot of times in the slips. In the last three Test matches, we have played, he nicked one in Vizag, I thought he nicked one and it was reviewed over and turned over. But he has got a tendency to nick spinners to the slip cordon. I saw him nick Dane Peidt in South Africa. He has done it quite a few times to Nathon Lyon (Australia) as well.”
“So I was just imagining. On the first day first day, this is one of the wickets out of the 4 Tests matches, where actually edges do carry to slips, so I was just mentally working it over and it happened,” the satisfaction was palpable.
The vital drop was by Karun Nair at gully when centurion Keaton Jennings was yet to get off the mark was a costly one but Ashwin did not want to be too harsh on the fielders.
“We can’t be hard on those catches. I though those were less than 50-50. We will have to give it to them. Yes we have put down a few catches including me during the series, but I think those cannot really count on (our) chances.” He praised Jennings and said the player looked a very promising prospect.
“Obviously, a debut century is special for him. I thought I had a weird feeling when that one at gully popped over Karun that he might have a good day because he had a great season for Durham. He just continued from where he left off, I guess, He has got a good tight defence, looks a very good player.”
Ashwin also thought the team missed one of their main bowlers Mohammed Shami whose dodgy knee kept him out of the game.
“Shami has been one of those go-to bowlers for us to try and break partnerships and also close out the innings. He is been fabulous over the last year and he is someone who we definitely missed, I thought if he was around maybe we could have ended up snapping one or two wickets, but that’s how the game goes.”
The spinner said that he had no clue that he had surpassed Javagal Srinath’s tally of Test wickets.
“Honestly, that’s the first time I am hearing. I was not aware of that record,” said the off-spinner on being asked about going past Javagal Srinath’s wicket-taking mark.
“He was one of the champion bowlers for India. It was on my radar when I started playing cricket and I am lucky.”