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‘Rohit asked me and Jadeja who wants to…’: ‘Rewired’ Ashwin’s brave act for India despite ‘knee acting up’

R Ashwin, following a 35th Test five-wicket-haul revealed he’s facing a bit of an issue with his knee.

On Sunday, Day 3 of the 4th Test between India and England in Ranchi, Ashwin took all this noise, packed them in a cloth of satin and let it out to dry. The ace India spinner picked up the 35th five-wicket-haul, and with a wonderful assist from Kuldeep Yadav’s 4/22, bowled England out for 145. Ashwin triggered England’s collapse, reducing them to 65/3 before Kuldeep took over, and after a break when Ben Foakes and Tom Hartley were frustrating India with a painstakingly slow partnership, the champion off-spinner returned to take out the remaining two wickets in three balls to wrap things up. Just like that, Ashwin was back, banishing opinions that he may not be as effective as before.

Ravichandran Ashwin speaks to Ravindra Jadeja during the match. (Reuters)

But the road to redemption wasn’t as easy as it seems. Seldom does it happen that a home Test series in India does not feature an Ashwin five-for and the 36-year-old ensured the Anthony de Mello Trophy wouldn’t be that exception. Ashwin revealed that he knew England were ripe for the picking but more challenging was the fact that he had to make some tweaks to his approach to get the desired outcome.

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“Rohit told Jadeja and me in the huddle – both of you are starting, who wants to start. I put my hand up and said I will start from this side. Glad it paid off. I have got some sort of an attachment with the new ball and I enjoyed bowling at a little bit more speed,” Ashwin told the host broadcaster at Stumps on Day 3.

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“I had to go back and rewire the game. I am someone who comes from the top and like the ball to drop on the pitch. Somehow when I come to the Eastern part of the country, I find that there is not enough bite out of the surface. The bounce is literally around shin height if I can say that, so I had to bowl a lot of side spin, had to hammer into the pitch for the first part of the spell and later from the other side I felt there was a little bit more purchase. Had to literally rewire and it’s a mental switch I had to make.

What’s up with Ashwin’s knee?

Ashwin’s 5/51 saw him tie Anil Kumble as the Indian with most Test five-fors and only fourth behind Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Richard Hadlee, and also surpassed the legendary India spinner to become the fastest to take 350 wickets on Indian soil. Uncharacteristically enough though, Ashwin did not use enough carrom balls, and the reason behind it, as the spinner revealed, is that he encountered some issue with his knee.

“For some strange reason my knee has been acting up. It just takes me 10-12 balls to warm up. I had a warmup before getting in as well. So once I got my length right that is when I wanted to try the carrom ball because I didn’t want to give away extra runs because we were chasing last, so every single run to chase is a big bonus,” added Ashwin.

Nonetheless, Ashwin’s brave act put India on the brink of a famous series win as they are only 152 runs away from wrapping it up.


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