Posts Tagged ‘Ashwin’


Shridhar Pandey

Only a couple of days away from the beginning of the Test series between India and England, I realize that I have never before looked forward to a Test series with such desperation as this one. There is more than one reason behind the excitement. Whatever the score-line might read at the end of four test matches, one can rest assured that both teams will have some interesting challenges coming their way. Though this series has been constantly billed as the “revenge” series, I believe that would not affect the teams much, for they have far bigger issues at hand to deal with.

As far as the English line-up is concerned, the return of Kevin Pietersen will surely boost the morale of the side but they cannot afford to get carried away. Of late their middle order mainstay Jonathan Trott has not been able to keep up to the high standards he has set for himself over the last couple of years. Injuries to Stuart Broad and Steven Finn have given them more reasons to worry about. Nonetheless, flamboyant KP is always a force to reckon with. If he can successfully put his frailties against slow left arm bowling behind him, the English supporters will be in for a delight.

Yuvraj and Pietersen make comebacks in to their sides and their form will be watched closely by fans and selectors. Pic: NDTV

To add to that, they have not yet gotten to taste the kind of spin bowling they are about to face in the upcoming Test matches. I would not bother myself going into the details of the reason behind that (that sure is worth another story in itself). But that does bring me to an over-hyped issue about the fragility of English batsmen against spin bowling. This is not the first time they are touring the sub-continent. Neither is this the best spin attack that India has had in the recent times. So give them a break. They know what they are doing. In case they aren’t, they better do!

The Indian outfit, on the other hand, will take on a serious opposition without Dravid and Laxman for the first time in years (no offence meant to the Kiwis). This series shall prove to be the litmus Test for the likes of Gambhir, Sehwag and Zaheer. Gambhir will have to prove that he is not just good for small innings and that he can go on to score some big runs as well. Sehwag will have to make his followers believe that he has not lost his touch while Zaheer’s fitness will be tested once again.

Pujara and Kohli showed promise in the series against New Zealand. If they continue their form into this series, England sure would get a run for their money. Yuvraj has given the selectors reason enough to select him for the no. 6 spot. For some reason, he has not been able to do justice to his talent. By now he should have been a permanent member of the Indian test line-up. Ashwin will be the one to watch out for. He has done extremely well in home conditions. He might prove to be the eyesore to most English batsmen.

Inclusion of Harbhajan in the squad renders the equation pretty interesting and open to speculations. It would be interesting to see if Dhoni leaves out Harbhajan from the playing eleven to include Ojha. If he doesn’t, it would be a huge injustice to poor Ojha who did very well in the New Zealand series. Dhoni himself has a few questions to answer as far as his batting goes. A batsman of his mettle batting at no. 7 is always a huge advantage to any side provided he is in good touch – or at least in the kind of form he is in the limited overs cricket.

Moving on to the last and certainly the most talked about issue of late – would Sachin Tendulkar announce retirement after this series or maybe after the series against Australia? All these speculations have gained some credibility after Sachin himself hinted that he cannot keep playing forever (contrary to what I had been thinking for the last 16 years). He has always been known to hit back hard whenever he has been criticized. Now is one such time. How well does he come back will be a key factor in determining how long he keeps playing from now on. Though there is still some part of me that believes he would keep playing till eternity!


Muthukumar Ramamoorthy

It was another pleasant morning to the start of the day with overcast conditions that delayed the day’s play by 25 minutes. Just as I wrote yesterday, the Indians were almost there reaching the 450 figure. But for the late aggression shown by the home side, it was quite evident that 500 was gettable. The visiting side was expected to exploit the overcast conditions and run through the Indian line-up. However the captain cool Dhoni played sensibly along with Pujara for a 127 run stand for the 6th wicket.

It was Pujara who started off the aggression trying to hit over the long-on only to find the safe hands of Franklin. But he managed to go past the 150 mark with a terrific innings that lasted for almost 8 hours in total. The skipper continued to show the aggression and paid the price – failing to convert his 20th Test fifty to a 100. Thanks to a brisk and classy short innings from Ashwin who managed to time all his 5 boundaries into the gaps with immaculate precision.

The Kiwi bowlers did not make much of an impression with their performances. However Patel and Boult did manage to pick 4 and 3 wickets respectively. Patel’s bowling did give a hint of what was to later come with the Indian spinners bowling on a track that offered turn. The Indian dressing room must have been happy to put up a decent first innings total.

The NZ team would have thought of sticking on to their own free batting style which was obvious in the way McCullum played his shots. The Indian speedsters Zaheer and Umesh did bowl to their strength but did not help enough to give the Indian team the early breakthrough. It was no surprise from Dhoni in bringing on the spinners as early as in the 8th over of the innings. Ojha was brave enough to have flighted the ball and McCullum paid the price for his aggression by getting caught by Kohli at covers.

Williamson – the next man in who scored his Test century against India in his debut game got off to mark in style with a boundary. However Dhoni did not wait too much to bring in Ashwin, the other spinner. Be it ODI, T20 or Test, Dhoni always seems to have immense trust in his ace off-spinner, Ashwin. True to it, with excellent field placement, Ashwin began with a wonderful delivery to send back the other opener Guptil to the pavilion.

It was largely expected that the Kiwi captain who came in to bat next at no 4, would bat through saving his team. However it was another beauty from Ashwin that Taylor did edge it marginally to Kohli at backward short leg. It was 3rd consecutive catch by Kohli. Ashwin continued to bowl with his magicial skills turning the new ball. He was rewarded with the wicket of Flynn as well who was trapped infront of the wicket.

Ashwin & Ojha

The duo spun well to rip through the New Zealand top order batsman setting a possible Indian victory

When the 4th wicket fell with score just then had crossed 50, the Indian off-spinners looked more confident of reducing the visitors to the tail by the end of day’s play. However a little resistance was shown by the duo Williamson and the wicket-keeper batsman Wyk adding 44 runs for the 5th wicket partneship. When everything looked set at last for the Kiwis, Ojha came back to send back the set batsman Williamson.

At the stumps of day 2, the Kiwis are in real trouble with the Indian spinners reducing the Kiwi side to half already. The weather seems to be threatening; however Ashwin and Ojha are well set to finish the Test match favouring an Indian win much earlier! Let’s wait to see if they could restrict the visitors and make them follow-on!