After a lone wicket in his previous Test series in England in 2014, Kings XI Punjab lion Ravichandran Ashwin left his paw prints in England with a fine four-wicket haul in the opening day of the first Test at Edgbaston.
Losing the toss and being put in to the field first, the Indian team watched the lack of swing with the new ball and brought Ravichandran Ashwin into the attack in just the seventh over. The wily spinner read the wicket perfectly and the rest of the day belonged to him.
Ashwin became the only Indian spinner to pick up a four-wicket haul on the opening day of a test match, surpassing former leg-spinner BS Chandrasekhar’s 3 for 94 at the same ground in 1967.
The KXIP skipper drew first blood for India with a kind of a delivery that would have made fans do a little bhangra after watching it. His off break drifted into Alastair Cook, who followed the line of the ball only to be beaten and cleaned up.
The supreme control Ashwin displayed allowed him to operate tightly; something that he has always aspired for.
In the final session of play, Ashwin’s loopy off-break turned just enough to trap an in-form Jos Buttler plumb in front. He then broke the back of the English middle order when he dismissed Ben Stokes for the sixth time in as many games; the Englishman gifting one of the gentlest return catches you will ever see.
However, the highlight of the day was Ashwin’s latest invention; the swinger, a delivery common to English off spinners operating on green tracks. Ashwin, having played county championship cricket, developed the ball which, when delivered from his first finger, curves in to the left-hander like an outswinger.
His final wicket of the innings was Stuart Broad, who was clueless against the swinger and was a dead duck in front of the stumps.
India will be hoping that their best bowler spins a weave again in the second innings but he might just be required to add some precious runs with the bat too as India tries to go past England’s total of 287.