I felt completely happy in my own cocoon: Ashwin
The off-spinner's 6-91 kept India in the game after the Khawaja-Green stand had pushed them into a corner
By his standards and considering his impressive record in India, R Ashwin was having a quiet Test series against Australia. Used to picking lots of wickets when playing at home, the first three games of the Border-Gavaskar series had seen the off-spinner claim just three three-wicket hauls and one fifer.
Coming into the fourth and final Test match, at the Narendra Modi Stadium at Motera, the bowlers were left with the challenge of dealing with a lifeless track. As to how slow it was could be made out from how Usman Khawaja was negotiating the spinners. On way to his stoic 180, the left-hand batter had so much time that he would go back, open his body and play the ball right in front of the stumps.
But Ashwin also proved to be equal to the challenge. He took the opportunity to showcase his ability to purchase wickets in tough conditions by out-thinking the batters.
Also Read: Australia get the rub of Green
At one stage when Khawaja and Cameron Green got together for a partnership of 208, it looked like Australia would bat India out of the game. The ace-off-spinner, however, kept India in the match with a stellar effort of 47.2-15-91-6. It is his 26th five-wicket haul (32nd overall), which is the most by a bowler in India and he also leapfrogged Anil Kumble to become the highest wicket-taker in the Border Gavaskar series with 113 scalps.
On a lifeless track, the pressure was on the home team after a fruitless first session as Khawaja and Green went unbeaten at lunch with scores of 150 and 95 respectively. Ashwin, however, provided the much-needed breakthrough by getting the wicket of Green at the score of 378. Because the ball was not turning, he was tossing the ball and looking to deceive the batters in the air.
Green took the bait when he went for a sweep shot to a tossed-up ball that was going down the leg side but the length was shorter and the batter got into the shot early and gloved a catch to keeper K S Bharat. In the same over, he had the wicket of Alex Carey and within nine runs he sent back Mitchel Starc.
After getting rewarded for bowling well, Ashwin said, he can go to bed happy. “You can go to bed feeling a lot better instead of having just three wickets in your kitty. It does feel good as you end up with a good bag of wickets, even if you don’t bowl sometimes, you feel good about it. I will go to bed tonight a bit early and also a bit happier," said Ashwin.
Talking about his plan against Green, he said: “Even while bowling to Green, I felt he was playing a lot besides the line for everything and the wicket wasn't true enough for him to play against the spin constantly, it was an idea to shut him down as his head falls over a lot more. That was the plan, but not necessarily the way you want to get him out. However, it did pan out. Those things also need to go your way, and if you compare that with Nathan Lyon top edging one over fine leg in Delhi, and that’s the difference between ending up with a three or six. It’s as minute as that. Sometimes the numbers speak easily for the bowler and I felt completely happy in my own cocoon about how the ball has been coming out of my hand.”