India’s veteran wicket-keeper batter Dinesh Karthik reckons Ravichandran Ashwin will be a different bowler if he gets one wicket in the second innings against South Africa in the opening Test match at SupeSport, Centurion.
Ashwin had gone wicketless in the first innings and bowled 13 overs as the fast bowlers took all the wickets.
Mohammed Shami was the pick of the bowlers as he scalped five wickets and bowled at the top of his game. Jasprit Bumrah and Shardul Thakur bagged a brace while Mohammed Siraj took one wicket. The pitch has been providing assistance to the fast bowlers and the Indian pacers took all the 10 wickets.
Meanwhile, Ashwin has been in good form as he had scalped 14 wickets in the two-Test matches against New Zealand however the conditions didn’t help him a lot in Centurion.
Karthik said while talking to Cricbuzz, “Oh definitely, a lot more than he did in the first innings, for a start. Obviously, in the first innings, the situation he bowled in was very different. It was more like they had picked up the wickets, they needed to give a break to the faster bowlers so he bowled to very defensive fields. I think if he gets one wicket it’s a different Ashwin that you’ll see with the people there in the short leg and silly point, putting the pressure. And if the cracks do open up, with Marco Jansen again coming back to the bowl and creating the rough. So Ashwin will be far more in the game.”
Karthik added Ashwin might pick one or two wickets in the second innings but the lion’s share of the work will have to be done by the four Indian fast bowlers.
“But I don’t see him picking more than 1-2 wickets and I say that because I feel that majority of the wickets need to be picked by the four fast bowlers… At this point, Ashwin will play the holding role but I still see him picking a wicket or two in the second innings.”
On the other hand, former South African captain Shaun Pollock heaped praise on Mohammed Shami for his fine spell. Shami returned with impressive figures of 5-44 and played a key role in skittling out the hosts at 197 runs. The ace paceman also completed 200 Test wickets
“I just thought the lengths I have seen Shami bowl over the years, the fact that maybe he is not as tall as some of the other bowlers, and he’s a little bit more skiddy, meant that he was going to be hitting those areas more often… He’s not a massive mover of the ball so he always seems like he’s in and around that off-stump, and it’s not shaping away or doing too much and that’s what makes him such a difficult customer to deal with. I really think he understands the game better now than ever. That’s why I just knew he was going to be a handful.”
India would aim to continue their domination on the fourth day of the opening Test.