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We need to pass the 350 mark: Ashwin

Mumbai: Ravichandran Ashwin believes it will be tough to bat on the Wankhede pitch as the match progresses. But he termed the wicket sporting, saying that it offered everyone an equal opportunity.

“There is more bounce in the wicket,” Ashwin said at the media conference. “If the fast bowlers bowl the right length, there will be something in it for them too. The Mumbai pitch has always had great bounce. It is one of the best wickets in the country and when it starts spinning, it becomes quite tough to bat on,” Ashwin added.

The off-spinner thinks that a total of around 350 could prove to be crucial.

“We don’t go into any Test with a particular total in mind… At this point, we are in a comfortable position. We are not totally out of the woods… The morning session will be crucial. We need to just pass the 350 mark.”

He was all praise for Cheteshwar Pujara’s unbeaten century. The pair has put on 97 in an unbroken seventh wicket stand. “It was a brilliant knock… The way he trusted his defence was brilliant. It was a very well-paced knock. If he had not got the hundred, it would have been a shame.”

“He has great temperament, he is in great form and keeps on scoring the runs… Even in domestic cricket, he does not get small hundreds, he gets big ones,” said Ashwin.

“We have played together since we were 16-17-year-olds… We have been at the National Cricket Academy and played at different age-group levels as well ,” he said.

On his rather aggressive unbeaten knock of 60, that came off 84 balls, Ashwin said he had set out to bat positively. “I set out with a positive intent and had decided to use my feet against the spinners come what may… It paid off and I got some runs.”

Pujara, 924 minutes & still going strong...

Virender Sehwag became the ninth Indian cricketer to play 100 Test matches.

The other players to play their 100th Test at the Wankhede, are Dilip Vengsarkar (vs New Zealand in November 1988), Carl Hooper (in October 2002) & Rahul Dravid (vs England in March 2006).

Last time India played three spinners in a Test was also against England. At Mohali, in 2006, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh & Piyush Chawla took the field. Rahul Dravid was the captain.

And the last time India played two off-spinners was when Harbhajan Singh and Sarandeep Singh played against England in Bangalore in December 2001.

Monty Panesar and Harbhajan Singh (the two Sardars) have played against each other six times now between 2006 and now. All six instances have been in India.

Cheteshwar Pujara registered his second consecutive Test hundred and the third of his career. Pujara has now scored three of the last five hundreds scored by Indians. Virat Kohli and Sehwag have scored the other two.

Pujara has now batted for 924 minutes (15 hours, 24 minutes) and faced 719 balls in this series and is yet to be dismissed.

Ravichandran Ashwin (60 batting) registered his second Test fifty. It may be recalled that his only Test hundred (103 vs WI, in November 2011) also came at the Wankhede.

Compiled by Mohandas Menon