India v England 2nd Test: Ravichandran Ashwin shows how it is done
In the end, there could not have been a better player than Ravichandran Ashwin himself to have shut down all critics of the second pitch which is being used for the second consecutive cricket Test match inside 10 days at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai between India and England. Ashwin, who grabbed a superb five-wicket haul in the first innings, schooled everyone—the England players on the field, those sitting in the dressing room along with the coaches, those watching on the television sets as well as those who have been staunch critics of the pitch which has turned from the first day it self as India seek a series levelling victory before both the teams head to Ahmedabad.
The nature of the pitch might be tilting towards spinners but it has never been as dreadful as some have described it to be. Rather, it is the failure of the cricketing fraternity to not acknowledge the ability of certain batsmen to thrive on low and turning wickets, while at the same time, they marvel over the abilities of fast bowlers to move the ball off its seam and swing it on green top wickets under cloud cover.
The sport of cricket for long has praised fast and swing bowlers for exposing batsmen for years at a stretch on their inabilities to play the deliveries that move off the seam, pitch or swing in the air. But the same sport has perhaps not loved the spinners as much—who have thrived on the shortcoming of batsmen against deliveries that are delivered at a lesser pace—they turn in either direction or even straighten up to leave them bamboozled.
But if the Chennai Test is anything to go by, the cricketing world would see that a batsmen does not only need traits such as application, determination and judiciousness while batting against seam and swing bowling, they need these qualities as much while facing a spinner on a rank turner with variable bounce and some other surprises in store. India opener Rohit Sharma spanked England bowlers all around the park on the first day to score a monumental 161—an effort so big that no batsman from either side has been able to challenge or match Rohit’s feat.
But the true quality of this pitch has truly been brought out by the all-round brilliance of Ravichandran Ashwin, who not only took a five-wicket haul in the first innings, but also smacked a superb century on the wicket which was deemed to be a ‘beach’ and not suitable for five days of Test cricket.
Ashwin got his century batting at number eight. This is a position which is usually occupied by that batsman whose primary role is to bowl but he is still promising with the bat. However, in the case of Ashwin, we are talking about a great of the game who is close to taking 400 Test wickets, the one who has just completed a rare and exemplary feat of five wickets and a century within a Test.
Ashwin could have got century at any of the two venues of the series — either at Chennai or at Ahmedabad. But him getting his triple figure mark especially on a wicket which India wanted to be a turning, spin friendly wicket from the first day it self is a huge statement of not only the cricketer’s quality, but it also highlights the fact that you need a plethora of other qualities such as perseverance, discipline, a resound batting technique and trust on your own game to make a big knock.
The Indian team finished the game with a resounding win by 317 runs which puts them on level with England in the ongoing series. While the remaining two matches will be played in Ahmedabad with one of them being a day night test with a pink cricket ball, it will be interesting to see how the cricketing fertilities takes such wickets—whoever they support, fast bowlers of the spin bowlers—in the time to come.