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Tanya Aldred reports that Ravichandran Ashwin has emerged as the dominant spinner, causing trouble for England once again.
Cricket Sport

Tanya Aldred reports that Ravichandran Ashwin has emerged as the dominant spinner, causing trouble for England once again.


Please pass me the chilly cloth and turn on the overhead fan. I just had a recurring nightmare about cricket matches in South Asia with fierce Indian spin bowlers. Scratch that, give the cloth to Ben Stokes instead.

In Ranchi, the spinners for India were in full force, taking every wicket that fell in England’s short second innings. This created a sense of inevitability as England’s lead of 46 runs, while smaller than desired, still seemed promising. However, their innings took a turn for the worse as they were all out for 145, with the last seven wickets falling rapidly for only 35 runs. This trend of poor performance was also seen in the previous match in Rajkot, where Zak Crawley was lbw to Jasprit Bumrah and Ben Duckett was disastrously run out.

However, during the match on Sunday, Bumrah was present but did not participate, while Mohammed Siraj only bowled three overs. Rohit Sharma initially used spinners from both ends and ultimately ended the match with spinners at both ends. The impressive Ravichandran Ashwin claimed his 35th five-wicket haul in Test matches, with Kuldeep Yadav taking four wickets and Ravindra Jadeja securing the important dismissal of Jonny Bairstow on the first ball after tea.

Ashwin loves the new ball, its bewitching shine and heady bounce. And when Sharma asked who wanted to bowl first, up went his hand. “I wanted that first over,” he said after play. “I seem to have a bit of attachment to the new ball, it allows you to bowl a little quicker, and I enjoyed that.

I had to alter my mindset regarding the game due to the limited amount of turns. As someone who prefers the ball to land on the field and create friction with the surface, this was not the case here. When I visit the eastern part of the country, I have to use side spin and hit the ball hard into the ground. It required a significant mental adjustment on my part.

England’s top order struggled with the complexity of the situation, as Ashwin made early breakthroughs by dismissing two batsmen in two consecutive deliveries. Duckett was caught at short leg after a defensive prod, while Ollie Pope fell for a pair by misjudging a delivery that didn’t turn. Despite 12 overs of careful batting from Crawley and Root, who was playing aggressively, Ashwin claimed his third wicket by getting Root out lbw after a tense exchange between Ashwin and Sharma over whether to review the decision or not. The review was taken and Root was ultimately given out by technology.

Ben Stokes is bowled by Kuldeep Yadav, who finished with four wickets.View image in fullscreen

India finally had a breakthrough when Crawley was dismissed for a half-century, falling victim to the dangerous Kuldeep. After that, anything was possible. Kuldeep proved to be too much for Stokes, Tom Hartley, and Ollie Robinson. According to Ashwin, “Kuldeep was outstanding today, shifting the momentum and altering the pace and trajectory of the ball. He has great skills and can add a lot of spin to the ball, but he also varied his pace effectively. It’s very challenging to face him when he does that. I may have taken away his five-wicket haul, but that’s just how the game goes.”

James Anderson was the one who secured Ashwin’s five-wicket haul, with Dhruv Jurel making a shining catch. Jurel’s careful batting of 90 runs with the lower order had turned the tide of the day. Despite the pitch having some challenges, it did not prove to be as difficult as anticipated by those observing it in their warm-up attire and on commentary. However, the cracks on the pitch did provide India’s bowlers with the potential for causing trouble, serving as a mental challenge just as daunting as the physical obstacles.

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England’s spinners faced a tough challenge during India’s chase, with Anderson waiting on the sidelines while they were given the new ball. This was not unexpected, as Hartley and Shoaib Bashir are inexperienced and still learning on a difficult tour. Root also only serves as a part-time spinner. They were up against formidable opponents in Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal, who are known for their skill against spin bowling. Sharma wasted no time in taking advantage of some loose deliveries from Hartley. After successfully navigating through eight overs, Sharma and Jaiswal confidently walked off the field, with their bats resting on their shoulders. They had completed their main task and could now relax and enjoy the rest of the match.

India began the third day of the third Test behind, but ended it triumphantly. Their spin abilities have brought them close to securing a series victory.

Source: theguardian.com