India leveled the Border-Gavaskar series by 1-1, courtesy the historic knock from stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who scored a hundred in the first innings of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne and alongside all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, added 121 runs for the sixth wicket, and guided the visitors to a healthy lead of 130 runs.
At present, the momentum is in India’s favor, and they would look to forge into the third Test with the same attitude to lock a 2-1 unassailable lead in Sydney.
Create your own fantasy team now on the MPL Fantasy league app
One of the biggest positives for India has been their bowling unit that has peaked at the right moments throughout the series.
Speaking on the same and highlighting the role that Ravichandran Ashwin has played in the current team, former India cricketer Pragyan Ojha called the off-spinner as the ‘bowling captain’ of the current Test team on account of his performances in the ongoing 4-match Border-Gavaskar Test series.
Ashwin, who has plenty of bowling variations underneath and has toured Australia three times before, has been a menace to the hosts in the concurrent series.
The 34-year-old Chennai-born is leading the bowling charts for the tourists in the 4-match series, picking 10 wickets in 4 innings, averaging 17.70, with 4/55 as the best bowling figures in an innings. He has dismissed Steve Smith, Australia’s key-batter in their lineup, twice in a span of three innings at scores of 1 and 0 in the first and second Test respectively.
Moreover, in the history of Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Ashwin now stands fourth in the list of highest wicket-takers with 87 scalpings in 17 Test matches comprising a solitary ten-wicket haul and 5 five-wicket hauls in an innings. Only Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Nathan Lyon have managed to grab more dismissals than Ashwin in the Border-Gavaskar encounters to date.
Ravichandran Ashwin doesn’t have to play for his spot: Pragyan Ojha
“Ashwin knows exactly what he wants to do. He is not a rookie anymore. He has been to Australia and now he doesn’t have to play for his spot. That is the most important thing for a player.
Once you don’t have the fear of getting dropped from the team over poor performance, then your body language improves. You have a little bit of cushion to do certain things. That is what is making a lot of difference for Ashwin with the role he is playing now. On the field, he is the bowling captain,” Ojha told Sports Today.
With Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav nowhere in the picture, owing to their injuries in the first and second Tests respectively, the onus would be on Ravichandran Ashwin to rise on the occasion and dominate Tim Paine & Co.
Team India would be playing the third Test of the ongoing Test series starting January 7 at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).