Ravichandran Ashwin expects the Adelaide pitch to slow down considerably going forward in the ongoing first Test between India and Australia. Ashwin led the visitors’ efforts on Day 2, taking three wickets and Australia have managed to stay in the hunt because of Travis Head’s 61. They start the fourth day on 191/7 with Ashwin standing within a chance of adding to the three wickets he got on Friday. “I see it as neck-and-neck in the game. Whoever can get momentum from hereon has the edge in this Test. I think it is extremely well poised. Every run is going to be gold dust from here. I think the wicket has slowed down considerably and I don’t expect it to quicken up more either. I think it’s going to slow down more,” he said in a press conference after the day’s play.
“I thought we really bottled them up, soaked them up and put on pressure from both ends. We don’t isolate it as a fast bowling or spin bowling pack. We identify it as a bowling unit together because one cannot exist without the other. Today was another perfect attrition day for us,” he said.
Ashwin said that, although Adelaide generally offers something for the spinners, he didn’t expect the ball to grip the way it did on Friday. “Adelaide generally offers a bit of spin but looking at the grass today we didn’t think we would get the hold that we are getting out there. There is a little bit of hold in the wicket and it is not considerable or vicious. There is not a lot happening off the straight or fizzing through (off the pitch), nothing like that. I was getting drift both ways, in and out, and I was able to control both that drift and get the batsmen holding their feet inside as well as outside the stump and hence hold them. That’s how we got Usman Khawaja out and Shaun Marsh out as well. That’s something that worked in my favour because of the drift, the ball going away and coming back in. It happens in Melbourne too. So I am backing on that to give me some really good results,” he said.
This was the fifth time that Marsh was dismissed by Ashwin. “There is a certain pattern that we saw through his videos before we got into the game. It was a sort of initial set-up that we wanted to do. Today the plan worked and not in the fashion that he dragged it on. But Shaun Marsh is one of the players that has played spin well in that batting order. So we thought it is a different plan for him going into this match,” he said.
He said footmarks on the pitch was helping the odd ball to spin for the right-handers. “There are ones that are going straight. I have not bowled much to the right-handers in this game but when Pat Cummins was playing, one went through the gate. So there is a lot of action happening for the right-handers.
“But there is not much happening for the left-handers for an off spinner. It is not easy to make the shots when you get the pace right though and there is a bit of hold because of thickness of the grass.”
This is Ashwin’s third tour of Australia and he said the experience of 2011, when Michael Clarke hit him out, was a learning curve. “First time when I came here in 2011, Michael Clarke kept driving me through covers a lot. I was a bit inexperienced and kept tossing the ball up.
“Obviously that’s where you learn from burning your fingers once. I did not expect them to come after me very hard, but if they did I will be very happy.
“Last time I did pretty well and I was very confident. That’s where my whole turning phase started as a bowler. So I was pretty confident coming here.”