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In second spell. Ravichandran Ashwin turns his fortunes around

When he walked away after bowling his first over, R Ashwin wouldn’t have been in a great mood. He had been slugged for a four and lifted for a six and 17 runs were looted off that over which was also India’s second in the chase. The memory of Perth, where he played his lone ODI of the series and had leaked 68 runs in his nine overs, was in the air and his captain whisked him off the attack.

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It wasn’t until the 10th over that he was re-introduced. It must have been an uncomfortable wait. After all, when the Indians landed in Australia, Ashwin was supposed to be the lead bowler, around whom even the seamers were to revolve. Suddenly, the world had gone topsy-turvy and he was made to sit out of four ODIs. On the social media, he was parodied initially and when he continued to be sidelined, even sympathy started to drift in. People were understandably puzzled by his repeated omission.

There was more than curiosity in the air when he came back to bowl the 10th over. Ashwin couldn’t have chosen a better time to come back for his second spell. Australia had just lost their best player of spin, Steven Smith, off the final ball of the previous over and still needed 100 runs from 11 overs. Kohli had even given a big send-off to Smith, his finger movements suggesting that the Australian captain had been rather chirpy on the field. India had the momentum.

Round the wickets

Ashwin chose to go round the wickets this time. He had a big shout for lbw first ball as Aaron Finch failed to connect properly with a sweep but the umpire said Ashwin’s follow-through had obstructed his vision and he couldn’t call it. The replays did show a bottom edge. Finch, though, was in a generous mood as he went for another sweep next ball and this time missed it completely. Ashwin had removed Australia topscorer Finch for 44 and given India a vital breakthrough.

With the pitch throwing up a bit of spin, Ravindra Jadeja tied up the Australians with a fine spell that read 4-0-21-2. And Ashwin came back again in the 14th over of the chase at the end of Jadeja’s spell. Again, he struck in his first over. Watson went for a sweep but was done in by the extra bounce that Ashwin managed to secure, and the top edge swirled up to short fine-leg where Ashish Nehra, who had a pretty satisfying return himself after more than four years in the wilderness, managed to hold on to the catch. After conceding 17 runs in his first over, Ashwin gave away only 11 from his remaining three.

It wasn’t just the spinners but the seamers too had a decent day in the middle. Jasprit Bhumrah continued to impress with his ability to bowl yorkers and with the batsmen yet to get used to his unique action, he prospered. Hardik Pandya had a horror of a start — bowling five wides — four of them down leg and one bounced way over the batsman — and leaking 19 runs in the first over. But he still managed to a decent comeback decently. He even was on a hat-trick at one stage as the under-pressure Australians started to lose the plot and for the first time on the tour, Dhoni had something nice to say about his bowlers.

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Date : 27-01-2016 05:49:32