India vs England: Ashwin feels the SG ball in use is 'bizarre'

India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who picked up six wickets in the third innings of the Test, was surprised by the early wear and tear of the seam.

India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin picked up six wickets in the third innings of the first Test against England in Chennai.   -  BCCI

India all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin, on Saturday, said the new variant of the red Sanspareils Greenlands (SG) ball being used for the first time in the ongoing India-England Test series is "bizarre".

"It (the ball) was pretty bizarre in this game. I have never seen an SG ball wear through the seam like that. It could well be a combination of how hard the pitch was in the first two days. But even in the second innings after the 35th-40th over, the seam had started to peel off," Ashwin said during a virtual press conference.

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The ball which was supposed to have a more pronounced seam and a harder cork inside the core, to facilitate extra bounce and seam movement, has been the topic of discussion from day one in the Chennai Test. The Indian pace duo of Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah had complained to the umpires about the stitching coming off inside 45 overs.

"I haven't seen an SG ball like this in so many years. We will have an answer for it going through the series," added Ashwin.

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The Tamil Nadu star, playing at home, believes the toss has played a major role in how things have panned out at Chepauk. He said, "Personally, I believed the wicket will be a good one. But I thought it might do a little bit more than what it did on the first day. It was really flat. It was a crucial toss for us. I still thought we fought back really well through the course of the day yesterday and even today we fought back pretty well. We will be happy to round off with a good fifth day."

England set India a target of 420 after being dismissed for 178. "We expected they will put probably 430-450 on board so we were also trying to manage our overs accordingly. I am not really sure what went through in their dressing room, but the bowlers getting tired and coming out to see off another spell, also gets factored in."

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Earlier, Ashwin and state-mate Washington Sundar led a spirited fightback to try and lift India way past the follow-on threshold of 379. Although, Ashwin fell on 31, surprised by the extra bounce on the new ball, Sundar went on to stay unbeaten on 85 as the host capitulated while on 337. Ashwin, who later picked up six wickets in the third innings to register his 28th five-wicket haul in Tests, heaped praise on Sundar saying, "We actually believed we could wipe out the follow-on and go on big because we have played on pitches here. We understand how it can be slow. We need to pick our battles properly. In fact, we got nicely settled in, but I thought, the ball bounced a bit too much on that particular delivery (talking about his wicket)... Washy is a fantastic batsman. I think a lot of people going by the T20 format, where he plays at No. 7, don't recognise the batting talent. He is quite special."