Ashwin’s spins a web around Proteas; takes five wickets to give India an edge

R Ashwin’s five-wicket haul followed by a gritty half century by Cheteshwar Pujara put India into the driver’s seat against the Proteas in the first Test oif the four-match series at Mohali Stadium on Friday.

Writing about the day’s progress, The Hindu says that India drew upon its collective energy to quell a South African resurgence on the second day of the first Test as the bowlers delivered and then the batsmen took over to ensure that things fell in place after the first-innings debacle.

“India not only took a motivating 17-run first innings lead but also swelled it to 142 by the end of the day, thanks to a suit-the-situation performance by the unsung Cheteshwar Pujara. He looked unflappable with a 63 which was so well constructed it should do a world of good to his stature in Indian cricket. He obviously will take loads of confidence and satisfaction with him to the dressing room after this eminent show,” says the Hindu report.

“South Africa wasted the good work done by the bowlers with a flurry of self deprecating selection of shots. It was evident that the batsmen tended to panic against the sustained Indian attack where off-spinner R. Ashwin led the comeback. His five-wicket haul was unsurprising given his ability to study and plot his ‘kills’ and this was in keeping with his growing reputation as a bowler capable of wining matches on his own. There was support for Ashwin from Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra, both striking when it counted,” adds the report.

A report in The New Indian Express says that it was surprising Virat Kohli didn’t bring Ashwin early. “When he started, he took time to find rhythm. Once settled, in a spell of 12-2-29-3 spreading either side of lunch, he had South Africa under the wraps. Mind you, it was not a track the ball was jumping off from length. He had to be patient and attack when an opportunity presented. He would say how he watched YouTube videos of Dean Elgar in Johannesburg. He lured him with flight and purchased an ungainly slog sweep. Such was his game study that he knew Elgar will play that shot. Then came the spell against De Villiers. In those 12 balls, he had a couple of lbw shouts and induced indecisive footwork. De Villiers was caught in two minds — whether to go forward or hang back,” says the report.