Ashwin beguiles lefties – and his critics
RAVI Ashwin said he was better this time, on his third trip to Australia. He said he had learned what to do here.
The magical Indian offspinner even took on Twitter trolls who said he was no good anywhere but home.
This is after all the fastest player to 300 Test wickets, eclipsing the great D.K. Lillee.
There was plenty of fuel for the critics. Before Ashwin put on a masterclass on day two in Adelaide, 234 of his 336 Test wickets had been taken in India, and 277 in Asia.
His average in Australia was almost 55.
It was enough for Shane Warne to suggest left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav could have been picked ahead of Ashwin in Adelaide.
What folly that would have been.
Ashwin had been eyeing the long list of left-handers who fill spots in the Aussie top six.
Of the four lefties, he had removed three before tea on day two and delivered an uppercut to the critics, with 3-50 from 33 on-target overs.
From his first over on day one, Aussie offie Nathan Lyon was extracting spin and bounce from an unusual Adelaide drop-in pitch, and constant groans from the close-in fielders followed.
Ditto for Ashwin, who, a was tail up from his first ball.
It was like he was bowling at home.
After he took down debutant Marcus Harris, then enticed Shaun Marsh to play a shocking shot and bowled him, both left-handers, the noose tightened. He had two slips to Usman Khawaja, left-hander No.3, plus a short leg.
Ashwin’s teammates know how important he is to them, how many wickets he takes for them.
They did everything they could to let their man know he was their man.
When an early delivery smashed in to the middle of Harris’s bat, in a solid defensive shot that would be taught the world over, the loud, sharp, anguished groans from the fieldsmen suggested it had been a near-miss.
That atmosphere continued, and with every poke and prod, every shriek, Ashwin’s confidence grew.
He even got the second new ball, on a day when he found his road groove and sent a message that this series could spin the tourists’ way.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Rishabh Pant of India celebrate the wick et of Marcus Harris (inset right).