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Batsman Ashwin defends India’s strange strategy

- We did the best we could, says the off-spinner
Kevin Pietersen is bowled by Ravindra Jadeja, in Nagpur, on Sunday

Nagpur: India’s strategy in the first hour of the fourth day morning was baffling to many.

When time was at a premium, India batted for 62 minutes and scored only 29 runs before declaring their first innings at 326 for nine. It didn’t help India take a substantial lead over England, rather it robbed an extra hour to have a go at the England batsmen.

But Ravichandran Ashwin, one of the overnight batsmen, pointed out the difficulties India would have faced to score quick runs. “At eight down, you don’t have the best of abilities at No. 9, 10 or 11. So you can’t expect someone coming so low down the order to smack (James) Anderson over the top for a six. Besides, the ball was very soft as well. All through this game, the average runs scored per session have been around 70 to 80,” Ashwin said.

On the contrary, he pointed out the England didn’t have a great over-rate either. “As for our part, we were basically looking to take the singles and just eat into the lead… They bowled just 12 overs in that particular hour. So we did the best we could muster,” he explained.

With India still requiring seven England wickets on the final day before even dreaming of a chase, Ashwin feels that “strange” things happen at times and so nothing should be ruled out.

“Strange things have happened… I’m not trying to be very optimistic, but we have done it in India before to get six or seven wickets in a session. We need to stick to how we bowled today and try and see if we can squeeze in a couple of early wickets tomorrow.”

Talking on what could be the hosts’ approach on the final day, the off-spinner said: “It’s very hard to approach anything differently, because you can’t keep six or seven men around the bat and concede runs as well. You got to stick to the basics and try and see what happens. It’s about trying to land the ball on one spot and see what the wicket does or if the batsman makes a mistake.”

Ashwin’s comments on the pitch made it evident that the Indian camp is livid with how the surface has behaved over these four days. “Apart from the colour change that had been indicated, nothing else has changed in this wicket,” he said.