India spinner R Ashwin said he expected the pitch to get slower and slower as India held a slight edge in a battle of attrition in the Adelaide Test after the second day of the opening Test.
Travis Head (61 batting) and Pat Cummins (10) kept Australia in the game with a 50-run partnership in the last session but India walked away with the advantage after the latter fell towards the end of day’s play. Mitchell Starc (8 batting) was giving Head company at close of play with Australia trailing by 59 runs
At stumps, Australia were 191/7 in 88 overs with Ashwin impressing with figures of 3/50 in 33 overs. He was aided well by the pace duo of Jasprit Bumrah (2/34) and Ishant Sharma (2/31).
“I thought we really bottled them up, soaked them up and put on pressure from both ends,” said Ashwin.
“We don’t isolate it as a fast-bowling or spin-bowling pack. We identify it as a bowling unit together because one cannot exist without the other. Today was another perfect attrition day for us.”
Talking about the pitch, Ashwin said that the drop-in track played much slower than India had thought it would. But it did not have a lot of turn, but it was definitely slowing down which could help the spinners in the second innings.
“Adelaide generally offers a bit of spin but looking at the grass that was there yesterday, we didn’t think we will get the little bit of hold we are getting. There is a bit of hold in the wicket but it is not something that is considerable or vicious or anything like that. It is slowing the ball down at the surface. Not really surprised but I think it was slower than we expected it to play,” he told reporters after the match.
“I thought there was more stickiness yesterday and the speed has definitely come down when we were batting yesterday, I don’t think it was as slow as it was today, I felt the wicket has slowed down considerably and I don’t expect it to quicken up more either. It is going to be slower and slower I think,” he added.
Being a drop-in pitch, the spinner said he had no idea how it would react on the last three days of the match.
“I really don’t how much it is going to deteriorate or what is going to happen, it is a drop in wicket at the end of the day; I don’t know how much a drop-in wicket deteriorates but because of the amount of grass, I don’t see the marks widening as much as it did the last time. But we will have to wait and watch,” he said.
Talking about getting Shaun March once again, Ashwin explained that he come into the first Test with a set plan against the southpaw as he is good player of spin.
“Shaun Marsh is a fantastic player so there is a certain pattern that we saw through the videos before we got into the game and it was sort of an initial set up we wanted to do and today the plan really worked, Not exactly in the fashion that he dragged it on but Marsh is one of the players who has played spin well in that batting lineup so we thought it is a different plan for him.”
However, Ashwin said that there was a lot of cricket yet to be played in the match and that India had to get early advantage on the third day to have a good chance of winning.
“I see it as neck and neck as far as the game goes right now. Whoever gets the momentum from here on will have an edge in this Test match. I think it is extremely well poised and every run is going to be gold dust from here on,” he added.
This is Ashwin’s third tour of Australia and he said the experience of 2011, when Michael Clarke hit him out, was a learning curve.
“First time when I came here in 2011, Michael Clarke kept driving me through covers a lot. I was a bit inexperienced and kept tossing the ball up.
“Obviously that’s where you learn from burning your fingers once. I did not expect them to come after me very hard, but if they did I will be very happy.
“Last time I did pretty well and I was very confident. That’s where my whole turning phase started as a bowler. So I was pretty confident coming here,” he added.
With inputs from PTI