R. Ashwin stepped confidently onto the field, stroked his way to an unbeaten 60 with nine hits to the fence and gave Cheteshwar Pujara company. He was also full of praise for the Saurashtra right-hander.
“Pujara’s was a brilliant knock. The way he trusted his defence was superb. He eased the nerves as he batted on. It was a very, very well-paced knock.
“If he had not got the hundred, it would have been a shame. We have been at the National Cricket Academy together and know each other. In fact, I have taken his wicket a few times, and have even had him leg-before. He has a great temperament and is in great form.
“He somehow keeps on piling up the runs. Even in domestic cricket, he doesn’t get small scores, he gets big hundreds,” said Ashwin.
He said the bounce had always been an element of the Wankhede wicket. “It has got more bounce in the wicket unlike Ahmedabad which was low and slow. If the fast bowlers also bowl the right length, they will probably get the ball to bounce.
“The Mumbai wicket is one of the best wickets in the country and when it starts spinning, it becomes quite tough to bat on. In this regard it has given a lot of help to the spinners. Towards the end the fast bowlers bent their back and the ball went through.”
When asked if India had wrested some initiative he said: “It is about spending time at the wicket. I used my feet up and down and we batted pretty well. We don’t go into any Test with any particular total. At this point, we have steadied the innings and got into a situation where we are in a comfortable position. But, we are not totally out of the woods.
“We need to gather a few more runs. The morning session (Saturday) will be crucial; we need to just pass the 350-mark and then we will have a game on.”
Monty Panesar said he was delighted at getting the “Prince of India — Sachin Tendulkar” out.
“That ball turned. Yes, they prepared a pitch on which they had played a four-day match. They prepared a pitch that would turn and bounce.
“When bowling to these world-class players, I will need every help. That’s the kind of delivery that you need to bowl to get these top players out.
“I have various responsibilities both with the new ball and old. Sometimes I need to do the holding role and then an attacking role. I do both the best I can and try my best for the team out there,” said Panesar.