Ashwin turns a corner to erase Jo’burg memories
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.