Ashwin’s Scintillating Ton Tightens Noose On England

Ashwin’s Scintillating Ton Tightens Noose On England

16 February 2021 10:59 am

2nd test - England Vs India - Chennai - Day 3

Ravichandran Ashwin hit a sparkling century, his first at home, as India moved towards a series-levelling victory in the second Test played against England in Chennai yesterday.

England who are leading the 4 Test series 1/0, were set a daunting target of 482 runs to win the game.

They ended day three on 53 for 3, with two days left to play.

Skipper Joe Root, on two, was there at the close with Dan Lawrence, on 19, after surviving an lbw appeal in the final over of the day.

Ashwin scored 106, his fifth Test century and first against England, before India were bowled out for 286 in the final session.

Resuming the day on 54-1, India lost five wickets in the morning session with Ali and Leach combining to do some damage.

For the seventh time in eight attempts, England's openers failed to take the scoreboard past 17, as Dom Sibley was pinned out LBW by Axar Patel.

Ashwin picked up his sixth wicket of the match when Rory Burns was caught at gully and Patel removed nightwatchman Leach to leave England three down at the close.

Pundits have criticised the pitch at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium with former England captain Michael Vaughan calling it a "Chennai beach".

But Chennai-born Ashwin gave Indian cricket fans plenty to cheer about with a carnival like atmosphere prevailing at Chepauk.

Fans were permitted to grounds for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out last year.

He came into this game having not passed 50 in a Test since 2017, but batted aggressively from the outset, achieving the double of a century and a five-wicket haul in the same match for the third time.

Ashwin who got to his half century from just 64 balls and even outscored his skipper Virat Kohli during their 96-run seventh-wicket stand.

Ashwin then got help from number 11 batsman Mohammed Siraj to get to his century, as they put on 49 runs for the final wicket.

Olly Stone finally bowled Ashwin off an inside edge to end India's innings.

"I don't know when I will play my next Test here, but I'm very pleased," said Ashwin after scoring a memorable century.

When India resumed after tea, Ashwin was on 68 and had only the last two batsmen to keep him company.

He was still 23 short when Siraj walked out at the fall of the ninth wicket.

Ashwin raised the tempo even as England took the new ball, carving Jack Leach away to move into the 90s, and then striking a clean six off Moeen Ali before charging down to slice four more to third man to bring up his memorable ton.

No one celebrated more gleefully than Siraj, who later went on to swing a couple of sixes over the ropes himself.

Ben Stokes could not hold on to a one-handed catch at slip when Ashwin was on 28, and Foakes then put down a thin outside edge when he had made 56.

Foakes, who celebrated his 28th birthday, accounted for Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant - making him the first England wicketkeeper to effect three stumpings in a  Test since Alan Knott did so in 1968.

Moeen trapped Kohli lbw for the second time in the match to claim eight wickets on his return to Test cricket, to be level with Sydney Barnes for England, and within sight equalling Jim Laker's tally of 193 wickets.