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Starc's absence cost off-spinners wickets, feels Sourav Ganguly

Sourav GangulyKolkata: Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly reckoned that injured left-arm quick Mitchell Starc's absence in the third Test against Australia which ended in a draw at Ranchi on Monday, resulted in the off-spinners from either side -- Ravichandran Ashwin and Nathan Lyon -- failing to find much purchase from the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) Stadium track.

Ganguly felt that both the off-spinners failed to find the rough outside the off-stump which is often created by the left-arm bowlers.

India's Ashwin in his two innings returned figures of 2/185 bowling a combined 64 overs, while Australia' Lyon -- wrecker-in-chief in the first Test in Pune where he claimed career-best figures of 8/50 -- got just the wicket of a tired Cheteshwar Pujara in the first innings after the latter played the innings of his life, a classical 202 off 525 deliveries.

"Off-spinners did not get wickets here. This is because Mitchell Starc was not there, so the rough outside off-stump was not created," Ganguly told reporters.

Starc -- Australia's prime bowler -- was ruled out of the tour after playing the first two Tests due to a stress fracture in his right foot.

The third Test ended in a draw after the Australian pair of Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb stitched together a match-saving 124-run stand for the fifth wicket in their second innings.

Replying to their first essay total of 451, India rode the brilliance of Pujara and stumper Wriddhiman Saha (117) to a mammoth 603/9 declared after taking a lead of 152.

"They (Marsh and Handscomb) played really well," Ganguly said.

Ganguly did not want to read too much into Ashwin's low returns in this tie.

"He got wickets in the last match only."

Ashwin returned with a match haul of 8/125 in the second Test played in Bengaluru. The fourth and final rubber will be played in Dharamsala from Saturday with the series evenly poised at 1-1.