Australia looking to land knock-out blow on Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin in fourth Test


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AUSTRALIA has pushed India’s fatiguing spin master Ravi Ashwin to breaking point, and a marathon batting innings in Dharamsala could deliver the series-deciding KO.

Numbers reveal the extraordinary workload Ashwin has been put through over the past six months, with a sluggish performance in Ranchi indicating the fastest-ever bowler to reach 250 Test wickets is on the ropes.

The Indian Express revealed that in the past 12 Tests India has played dating back to the first against New Zealand in Kanpur 179 days ago, Ashwin has bowled an astonishing 4209 deliveries – the most by any bowler in a season.

The combined output from Ashwin and spin twin Ravi Jadeja in that time is a crazy 1385.3 overs.

In Bangalore, Ashwin bowled India to victory with a stunning six-wicket second innings haul.


But a few days later in Ranchi, captain Virat Kohli seemed reluctant to bowl his main spinning strike-weapon for long periods, with Jadeja bowling 30 overs more than his partner, who finished with only two wickets.

The writing is on the wall for Ashwin, who has lost his No.1 world ranking, and former Indian Test spinner Venkatapathy Raju says the danger signs are obvious.

“Ashwin puts more shoulder into his action, so he might tire faster,” Raju told The Indian Express.

“Jadeja keeps it very simple, that’s the reason why he can bowl longer spells than Ashwin while sustaining the same intensity.

“You are always planning and plotting, where to bowl, what to bowl, how much should you turn, how much should you flight the ball, and things like that. What you have is a few seconds and then you have to start going through the process all over again.

“Maybe we could have played three spinners.”

Captain Kohli says Ashwin will have to wait for his rest when the limited overs season starts.

Australian batsman Peter Handscomb says India might be exhausted, but he doesn’t believe that will be a factor in a series decider.

“I’m not sure it makes a massive difference to be fair,” said Handscomb.

“I guess they might be tired but we’ve had a massive summer as well. It’s not like we haven’t been playing cricket and aren’t just as sore.

“The other thing is they’ve been playing in their conditions the entire summer so they know it better than us but we’ve been unbelievable in the way that we’ve prepared and gone about our game, so I wouldn’t have thought getting them at the back end would change anything.”

Handscomb believes his superb match-saving 72 not out in the second innings in Ranchi has set him up perfectly for another big showing in Dharamsala, with confidence in the conditions now at a high.

However, Handscomb says the onus is on the batting group as a whole to lift for the fourth Test.

Scoring 450 in the first innings and considering it a failure is a harsh call, but Australia realise that scores in excess of 550 are needed to truly set matches up in India.

“I guess after that first innings we were glad that we got 450, but reflecting on the game – and we did speak about it afterwards – we did score 450 but we definitely did have a chance there to score 500-550, potentially 600, and really set the game up for ourselves,” said Handscomb.

“But now that we have had that second innings where we batted so well, we know we can take that belief into the first innings at Dharamsala and go from there and hopefully score big first innings runs.”

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