Ravichandran Ashwin has been the trump card for India for last one year when it comes to subduing rivals in Tests. So, when he returned with three wickets in the first Test against England on a Rajkot pitch that offered little help to spinners, it came as a surprise.
However, Ashwin was back to his old self in the second Test in Vizag as he returned with figures of 5/67 in the first innings against England. Courtesy his display, India lead England by 298 runs at stumps on Day 3.
It was Ashwin’s 22nd five-wicket haul in 41 Tests and his first against England. Barring Zimbabwe and Pakistan, the 30-year-old spinner now has a five-wicket haul against every country.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar said that the five-wicket haul against England was extra special. “He will cherish the five-wicket haul against England for a long time. He had to world hard for it,” Gavaskar said.
The five-wicket haul also took Ashwin’s tally to 52 wickets Tests in 2016, two behind Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath. He is also the second Indian bowler to take 50-plus wickets in two consecutive years, after Harbhajan Singh (2001 and 2002).
With India leading England by 298 runs at the end of Day 3, Gavaskar said that the hosts should be aiming at a 450-plus total.
“India are currently on top against England in the second Test. However, it won;t be easy for them. India should give England a target of at least 450,” Gavaskar said.