IND vs AUS 2023: Ashwin-Umesh Pull Length, India Back
It’s the 68th over of Australia’s innings and Ravindra Jadeja has bowled non-stop since the start of the day’s play. He would get the odd catch and return but was well denied by Cameron Greene and Peter Handscomb in the first hour. He got past Handscomb twice in that particular over and bowled a no-ball, but he didn’t really deliver the success India were hoping for in the first hour.
Midway through his over, R Ashwin, fielding at mid-on, started warming-up and getting ready for that one over before the drinks break. He got one in the 69th over and was immediately in the money. After watching the proceedings closely, Ashwin found the perfect length, a trick that the Indian bowlers missed on the first day and in the first half of Thursday’s session.
At the drinks break, the pressure was now mounting on India as Australia went from 156/4 to 186/4 – a happy unit – unscathed and with the lead increasing. The madness unfolded after the drinks break as Ashwin struck in the first over to end Handscomb’s (98-ball 19) resistance, and Umesh Yadav ran hard from the other end to clear the lower-order without allowing too much damage.
From 186/4, Australia slumped to 197/10 in just 39 balls after the drinks break. It was similar to India’s collapse in the first half of the first morning session as the hosts lost half off 68 balls and the scoreboard read 45/5.
Full marks to Australia for their resistance but the Indian bowlers – Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel – erred in their lengths and were too packed to exploit the surface.
Jadeja, in particular, kept searching for that fullness and sharp glorious spin on the ball and was safely tackled by the straight bats and long strides of both Green and Handscomb. The left-hander took four wickets on Wednesday and was the most efficient bowler for the hosts but missed a trick with length in the morning session. Three of his four wickets on Day 1 came from good length, a plan he should have stuck to as the balls behaved differently from that position.
Ashwin found the perfect medicine
Ashwin settled in and made an immediate impact as he picked up three wickets in nine balls and did not allow the hosts to run away with a substantial lead. For Ashwin, the pace at which he bowled worked – much slower than what Axar and Jadeja did. And the experienced off-spinner hit the stumps from a good length area and allowed the pitch to take its pitch.
The ball was coming off his hand well and he was exploiting the surface with perfect lines and appropriate pace. After playing bystander for most of the pre-drinks session, he quickly jumped into action and wrapped things up in a hurry.
Umesh breathes fire
After the first two Tests, no one would have expected Umesh Yadav to make it into the playing XI. Yes, an injury here and there might have helped him in the team but Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj were always going to be first-choice seamers. Management sprung a surprise in the toss when Umesh came in and decided to “rest” Shami.
For many years now, 12 years since his first Test for India, Umesh has rarely been first choice in the playing XI and has remained second choice to an experienced quick or a more promising youngster. A place in the Indore Test playing XI was not a certainty, and the fast bowler grabbed it with both hands, and how.
Even in the morning session, Umesh was second choice to skipper Rohit Sharma as he opened proceedings with Siraj and gave Umesh the ball-only post drinks. The 35-year-old picked up his first when Green was caught in front for 21 and added two more to his tally when he sent the stumps of Mitchell Starc and Todd Murphy cartwheeling. Umesh’s plan was simple and he kept hitting the stumps from a good length and the cutting angles did the rest.
Deliveries to remove Starc and Murphy were reduced to snoozing after Australia’s resistance in the first hour.
It would be fair to say that the visitors have a slight edge with that lead and India will need to bat well to put the pressure back on them. Speed is on their side after the latter drinks burst