Ash­win be­guiles left­ies – and his crit­ics

Geelong Advertiser - - SPORT - RUS­SELL GOULD

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).

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