Ashwin rips apart Australia; India levels series

The spin wizard helps the team level the series in Bengaluru as India drubs Australia by 75 runs, relives the memories of 2001 by registering a coming from behind victory.

Ravichandran Ashwin (right) celebrates the wicket of Australia's Mitchell Marsh with teammates.   -  Reuters

Conceding a first innings lead, playing catch-up on the first two days, India seemed down for the count. But Virat Kohli’s men, having made their first redemptive steps on Monday, augmented that momentum.

The build-up to Tuesday was nothing short of dramatic. On Monday night, Bengaluru kept its date with a thunderstorm, it rained a bit, there was the odd thunder-clap, the temperature mildly dipped and when the fourth day of the second Test dawned, it was the turn of the Indian team to kick up some serious heat at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details

In a turnaround that fans will preserve in their minds forever, India defeated Australia by 75 runs. And memories raced back to Eden Gardens’ 2001 when after following-on, India rose from the ashes and registered a historic 171-run victory. One of the heroes—V. V. S. Laxman of the 281 vintage—was present in the commentary box and he tweeted: “Congrats Team India on a fabulous, scintillating win. Loved the determination, fight & aggression of each and every player.”

The penultimate day, which eventually proved to be the concluding one, witnessed the fall of 16 wickets. It started with India, overnight 213 for four, losing its last six for 61 to finish with 274 in its second innings. Needing 188 for victory, Australia lasted a mere 35.4 overs, eking 112 in its second dig and it was time for the Indians to grab stumps as souvenirs.

There was another trope from the famous Kolkata Test—the success of an off-spinner. If Harbhajan Singh did the star-turn then, more than a decade and a half later, R. Ashwin drove in the nails. His six for 41, inclusive of a mind-boggling final spell of 5.4-3-9-5, choked Steve Smith’s men.

Australia was in a shambles right through its chase. Ishant Sharma prised out Matt Renshaw in the fifth over. David Warner whetted his appetite with a six off Ashwin, but a full-meal never materialised. He failed to connect a sweep, got rapped on the pad, Ashwin’s appeal was upheld but the opener sought a review. It proved futile. Australia slumped further when Umesh Yadav’s brilliant second spell of 5-1-17-2 undid Shaun Marsh and Smith. Adjudged lbw, Shaun would have later realised that the delivery was missing the stumps but inexplicably a review was not sought.

Terrible gesture

Worse was to follow as an Umesh delivery that kept low, thudded into Smith’s pads. The Australian captain had the audacity to look towards the dressing room and check whether he could seek a review! Smith was admonished by umpire Nigel Llong. Kohli was equally vocal in his criticism—later to find better expression in a press-conference—and his counterpart abandoned plans of seeking a review and trudged back to boos from the crowd.

Ashwin then accounted for Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade, who were caught respectively by Karun Nair and a diving Wriddhiman Saha.

Precariously placed at 101 for six at tea, on resumption Australia lasted just 7.5 overs as Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja scythed through the tail to trigger scenes of joy in the stands.

In the morning, India stumbled against the new-ball. Cheteshwar Pujara (92) and Ajinkya Rahane (52) shared a 118-run fifth-wicket partnership and closure happened when the latter succumbed to Mitchell Starc. It became a double-blow as Karun inner-edged the next ball onto his stumps.

Immediately Josh Hazlewood (six for 67) got into the act and had Pujara fending awkwardly and slipped one through Ashwin’s airy drive. Though, Saha and Ishant Sharma resisted, the first session belonged to Australia.

India, though, wrested the bragging rights for the match. Now level at 1-1, the series has got its adrenaline shot.

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