Ashwin becomes leading wicket-taker in series as Aussie spinners show their class


Ravichandran Ashwin and Cheteshwar Pujara celebrate the dismissal of Australia's Cameron Green during the Day 2 of the 4th Test Match in Ahmedabad on Friday (ANI)

Australian cricketers on Wednesday celebrated the festival of Holi ahead of the fourth Test against India in Ahmedabad, which began on Thursday

Our Bureau
New Delhi

Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin became the highest wicket-taker in the history of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia on Friday.

Ashwin accomplished this milestone during India’s fourth and final Test against Australia at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad. In the first innings, Ashwin weaved his magic yet again on a pitch that did not really offer much help to spinners. He ended up with a spell of 6/91 in 47.2 overs.

He took key wickets of Travis Head (32), Cameron Green (114), Alex Carey (0), Mitchell Starc (6), Nathan Lyon (34) and Todd Murphy (41).

Now in 22 matches, Ashwin has taken 113 wickets at an average of 28.10 and an economy rate of 2.71. His best bowling figures in an inning are 7/103 in BGT.

Lyon is the joint-highest wicket-taker in the history of the series, with 113 wickets. But he is in the second position as he has taken 26 matches to reach this number. His average is 31.92 and his economy rate is 3.09. His best bowling figures against India in Tests is 8/50.

Ashwin and Lyon are followed by Indian spin legends Anil Kumble (111) and Harbhajan Singh (95). Ravindra Jadeja is the fifth-highest wicket-taker in BGT history, with 85 wickets.

This was also Ashwin’s 26th five-wicket haul in India, the most by any bowler in India. Overall, he has a total of 32 five-wicket hauls, which is the fifth-highest in the history of Test cricket. The highest number of Test five-wicket hauls are taken by Sri Lankan spin wizard Mutthiah Muralidaran, who has a total of 67 five-wicket hauls in the longer format.

Ashwin is also the highest wicket-taker in the ongoing edition of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. He has taken a total of 24 wickets in four matches, with the best figures of 6/91.

Coming to the match, Australia scored a massive 480 runs in their first innings. Centuries from Usman Khawaja (180) and Cameron Green (114) helped the visitors reach such a big total. Khawaja also got the third-highest score by an Australian in India, with Matthew Hayden scoring 203 in 2001 in Chennai and Dean Jones scoring 210 in the same state back in 1986.

‘I feel it is more mental than skills,’: Rohit

A day before the fourth Test, the Indian captain Rohit Sharma emphasized on the fact that in the end, the result will depend on the mindset of players rather than skill.

While talking in the pre-match conference the Indian opening batter believes that irrespective of the challenging conditions a batter always has to find his own way of scoring runs. The approach of the player cannot change in a span of three weeks so in the end it is about the strong mindset that a batter appears with. In the pre-match conference, he said, “We are just trying to figure out more and more methods of coming out on top when the pitches are challenging. Every individual is different so they will find their own way of scoring runs. All these guys have played a lot of cricket you can’t change in a span of three weeks. You need to change your mindset you need to adapt to the conditions as soon as possible various approach to your batting and all those kinds of things. It’s more than the skills it is mentally how you prepare yourself and how you want to tackle opposition bowlers I feel it is more mental than skills.”

“It’s important in any test match you play, leave the conditions, outside of India you have to just go and score runs find ways to score runs and that is the talk among the group how challenging the pitches are how much is it turning how much is it seaming and all that. We are trying to keep all of that away. Conditions are there for us to play and you got to find your way to score runs on whatever pitches you play on,” said Sharma.

During a series, most of the time a team tries to focus too much on what their opponents are trying to do. Due to this, the players start to hesitate about their approach. But Rohit Sharma believes that his team does not focus on what their opponents are trying to pull off.

“Obviously, as oppositions, you will try and play around with something that takes in all and that. When you have got Jadeja and Axar I dont think you can take much time anyway. They bowl really really quick before the guys are ready to bat those guys are halfway there to bowl so that’s probably my take on that,” Sharma continued.

Aussies spinners can handle pressure

Australia’s two inexperienced spinners Todd Murphy and Matthew Kuhnemann were the X factor for Australia in their victory at the third Test match in Indore. Todd Murphy got Virat Kohli’s wicket in the first innings while Kuhnemann got a five-wicket haul in the first innings as well.

Even though Murphy failed to pick up a wicket in the second innings, he managed to limit the scoring options of the Indian batters. Kuhnemann though became the target of Indian batters as they went straight after him. Indian captain Rohit Sharma believes both spinners are crucial for Australia. In the pre-match conference, he said, “Both have been good. Murphy in the first game got 7 wickets and Kuhnemann got a fifer in the last test match. So they have got potential to exploit these conditions and obviously when you have an attacking spinner like Lyon you need someone from the other end to compliment as well.”

“These guys have shown that they can handle that pressure. Having come out of two losses it is not easy to come out and get the job done especially on the back of two losses. But both the spinners have actually shown that they have got that temperament to handle that pressure in the middle. When the pitches are that helpful for spinners your team is expecting a lot out of you,” said Rohit Sharma.

Usman Khawaja plays a shot during the Day 2 of the 4th Test Match in Ahmedabad on Friday (ANI)

“Every ball you bowl you are desperate to take a wicket but I think both of them were quite calm. They pitched it in the right areas, make the batsman guess and then make a mistake. It was that kind of thought process for them and it really worked for them having said that they have the potential to play at the highest level. For us, it’s just about understanding what they have done in the last two games and how can we come out on top of them,” Rohit Sharma continued.

While both Australian spinners were calm, Indian spinners on the other hand showed their animated side. Ravindra Jadeja appealed every single time when the ball struck the Australian batter’s pad. Rohit Sharma pointed out the mistake that they made due to the excitement in the third Test match.

Australian players celebrate Holi

Australian cricketers on Wednesday celebrated the festival of Holi ahead of the fourth Test against India in Ahmedabad, which will start from Thursday onwards.

World’s number one ranked Test batter Marnus Labuschagne took to Instagram to share the pictures of his teammates Steve Smith, Peter Handscomb, Matt Kuhnemann and Alex Carey playing Holi. “Happy Holi,” said the caption of Marnus’s post.

India is currently leading the series 2-1. However, the hosts need to secure an outright victory in the final Test to qualify for the final of the ICC World Test Championship.

Should they qualify, India will be up against the same opponent in the battle for the coveted Test crown. The championship clash will be staged in London from June 7 onwards.

India had won the first Test at Nagpur by innings and 132 runs and followed it up with a six-wicket win in the second Test at Delhi. Both Tests got over in a span of three days.

However, the visitors bounced back admirably to win the third Test at Indore by nine wickets inside three days, thereby avoiding a series whitewash.

Players wear black armbands to pay respect to Cummins’s mother

Australian cricket team was seen wearing black armbands as a mark of respect for Pat Cummins’s mother as she passed away on Thursday after a prolonged battle with cancer.

On Friday morning in Ahmedabad, coach Andrew McDonald gathered the team before the game to share that Maria Cummins had passed away from breast cancer. “We are deeply saddened at the passing of Maria Cummins overnight. On behalf of Australian Cricket, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Pat, the Cummins family and their friends. The Australian Men’s team will today wear black armbands as a mark of respect,” Cricket Australia said.

Before departing for Sydney to care for his mother while she was receiving palliative care, Pat Cummins captained the team for the first two Test matches against India in the Border-Gavaskar series.

The team has praised Cummins for his leadership in the first two Tests while Steve Smith has captained in his absence.

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