Ashwin’s all-round heroics lead to India’s huge win

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Indian supporters were depressed after India’s big loss to England in the first Test last week. But as predicted by The Indian Down Under, India reversed their loss by winning the second Test also at Chennai by 317 runs.

That’s a huge, huge morale-boosting win. This is following the recent pattern in Australia when India came good after their big loss in the first Test in Adelaide. Hope this trend continues.

Opening batsman Rohit Sharma and all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin were the heroes of this heart-warming turnaround in Chennai this week. On a wicket taking spin from the first day, India totaled 329, Rohit belting an incandescent 161 with 18 fours and two sixes and adding 162 runs for the fourth wicket with Ajinkya Rahane (67).

Then Rishabh Pant smashed an aggressive and unbeaten 58 smashing seven fours and three sixes and India totaled 329. The tall and bearded off-spinner Moeen Ali staged a good come back to Test cricket with a 4 for 128 haul. Earlier he was in quarantine due to COVID-19 infection.

Indian spinners Ashwin (5 for 43) and Axar Patel (2 for 40) spun out England for 134 (Ben Foakes top scoring with 42 not out). It was Axar’s Test debut and his first Test victim was England’s prolific batsman Joe Root.

Leading by 195 runs, India struggled in the second innings to English spinners Jack Leach and Moeen Ali, losing their first six wickets for 106. Then skipper Virat Kohli (62) and Ashwin (106 with 14 fours and a six) added 96 runs for the seventh wicket and India made 286.

Needing an improbable 482 to win, England was bowled out for 164 to lose the Test by 317 runs with a day and half to spare. The bowling heroes were Axar Patel claiming 5 for 60 and Ashwin 3 for 53. Moeen entertained the crowd hitting three fours and five sixes in an entertaining innings of 43 scored off only 18 balls.

What a promising Test debut for Axar, a five wicket winning spell! Ashwin was the undisputed Man of the Match with a gritty century and match figures of 8 for 96. It was the fifth Test hundred for the 34 year-old who appears to grow younger every Test!

At the presentation Ashwin spoke in Tamil and English. “I’ve watched a lot of cricket in these stands, my father brought me here. I’m speechless right now. I’ve played four Test matches here and this is easily the most special Test match. It gave me a hero feeling. In COVID times, a lot of people came without any worries and even though some didn’t wear masks they cheered for us. Every time I came out to bat or bowl, the cheers were great. I dedicate this win to the Chennai crowd. We won after they allowed the crowd in, hopefully we continue to do well [in the presence of crowds] in Ahmedabad as well.”

The next Test starts on Wednesday the 24th at Ahmedabad with the series now locked one-all.

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