Ash­win turns a cor­ner to erase Jo’burg mem­o­ries

Sport360 - - South Africa v India - By Staff Re­porter @Sport360 ed­i­to­

Just over three years ago, off­spin­ner Ravichan­dran Ash­win en­dured one of the worst episodes of his ca­reer when he went wick­et­less against South Africa and was dropped for the fol­low­ing Test.

But yes­ter­day he went some way to­wards re­demp­tion with his three for 90 from 31 overs.

In 2013/14, at the Wan­der­ers Sta­dium in Jo­han­nes­burg, Ash­win suf­fered a ma­jor ca­reer set­back.

In­dia set South Africa 458 to win with more than a day to bowl them out. Not only did they fail to do that, but the Proteas got within eight runs of what would have been a world record chase.

“It was a re­al­ity check in terms of not be­ing able to win a Test match for the coun­try on day five when all things were set up for a spin­ner,” said Ash­win, who went wick­et­less in 36 overs that day.

“It hit my pro­fes­sional pride and from then on I knew I had to work on cer­tain things.”

Ash­win was dropped for the next match, which In­dia lost, and it took a while for the se­lec­tors to trust him in Tests out­side In­dia.

“I worked on mak­ing my ac­tion a lot more re­peat­able, I worked on my wrist ac­tion at the point of re­lease,” the 31-year-old added.

“I ironed out a few things, used my wrist a lot more when I de­liv­ered the ball, used my palm when I bowled the floater.”

In 38 Tests since then, Ash­win has taken 205 wick­ets at an av­er­age of 23.82, prov­ing him­self one of the best spin bowlers in the his­tory of the game. There was no as­sis­tance for the fast bowlers yes­ter­day. There wasn’t all that much for Ash­win, ei­ther, but he plugged away.

“There was a bit of spin in the morn­ing. It was a bit damp but very slow. It did spin a bit but it was not out­ra­geous.”

South Africa’s late col­lapse was sparked by great piece of field­ing by Hardik Pandya, who ran out Hashim Amla. “There was some ex­tra­or­di­nary work by Hardik and a bit of luck for us,” said Ash­win. “It could be a very good bat­ting day tomorrow.”

South Africa opener Ai­den Markram, play­ing in his fifth Test, looked set for a third cen­tury.

How­ever, he fell try­ing to guide a ball from Ash­win and was caught be­hind by Parthiv Pa­tel. There was some con­so­la­tion when In­dian cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli ran across to con­grat­u­late South Africa’s ris­ing star.

“He just said ‘well played’ and that I was un­lucky to get out. It was a great ges­ture and it did mean a lot,” Markram said.

Just per­fect: Ravi Ash­win.

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