Ravichandran Ashwin’s off-spin once again assumed centre stage, as India moved closer to victory over Australia on the fourth day of the first Airtel Test at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Monday.
The 26-year-old bowler from Chennai followed his seven for 103 in the first innings with five for 90 in the second essay, as Australia, adrift by 192 in the first innings, ended the day at 232 for nine. The visitor leads by only 40 runs going into the final day on a pitch providing considerable assistance to the spinners.
Ashwin’s second 10-wicket match haul in Tests has been marked by control and subtle variations. He has employed his flight capably and looked to get the batsmen on to the front foot.
Ashwin, who won a leg-before shout against key man Michael Clarke (31) with a sharp off-spinner, was supported usefully by off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.
The contest was taken into the final day by a defiant unbeaten 57-run last-wicket partnership between debutant all-rounder Moises Henriques (75 batting) and Nathan Lyon (eight batting). Henriques showed composure and struck the ball admirably.
In the morning, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni fell for an inspiring 265-ball 224 — just eight short of Andy Flower’s highest score by a wicket-keeper batsman in Tests — when he was caught behind off fast bowler James Pattinson. The 140-run ninth-wicket association between Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (38), playing in his first Test, took the game away from Australia. The impressive Pattinson scalped five.