‘Had to rewire a mental switch’: Ravichandran Ashwin on bowling with new ball on Day 3 of Ranchi Test

India’s cricketing narrative witnessed a dramatic turnaround on Day 3 of the compelling fourth Test match against England, an occasion marked by a dazzling all-round display which firmly placed the hosts in a position of authority. The gripping cricketing action on a Sunday witnessed a stellar maiden Test fifty from India’s Dhruv Jurel that infused a renewed vigor into their first innings campaign. The plot thickened as skilled spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav spun a web of deceit on a treacherous Ranchi pitch, laying bare the cracks and winning the day for India.

Ashwin’s expertise with the ball was on full show as he collected his 35th five-wicket haul in Test cricket, a remarkable feat that underscored his enduring class after a series of performances that were seen as subpar by his lofty standards. The seasoned pro showcased a tactical masterstroke by opening the bowling in England’s second innings, a move prompted by captain Rohit Sharma’s bold decision to launch an all-out spin assault.

Employing the new ball, often a challenging prospect for a spinner, Ashwin emerged as the architect of England’s collapse, claiming three pivotal early wickets that included the prized scalp of Joe Root. As if operating with a sorcerer’s guile, Ashwin returned to the bowling crease to complete his five-wicket haul, thereby tightening India’s grip on the match.

The surface at the Ranchi stadium, which had begun to betray signs of uneven bounce from the second day, deteriorated swiftly and discernably as the match progressed into its third day. The unpredictability of the pitch posed a significant challenge for batsmen, who struggled to negotiate the capricious conditions. Confronted with the unyielding surface, Ashwin revealed the extent of the mental recalibration required to exploit the conditions effectively.

“So actually I had to go back and rewire the way I had to think about the game,” Ashwin articulated in a post-day reflection, shedding light on the internal adjustments he had been compelled to make. “I am someone who comes over the top, comes down on the ball. I like the ball to drop on the pitch. Somehow when I come to the eastern part of the country, I find that there is not enough bite out of the surface. The bounce is literally almost near the shin height, if I can say that. So I had to really go a lot of side spin. I had to hammer into the pitch for the first part of the spell. And later from the other side, I felt like there was a little bit more purchase. I had to literally rewire and it was a mental switch I had to make.”

This mental switch and subsequent on-field performances are what set Day 3 apart as a day of remarkable comebacks and turnarounds. Ashwin’s adaptation to the eastern pitch conditions also etched his name even more deeply into the annals of Indian cricket, as he continued to break records and outperform legends.

In related stories, these performances have turned the tide in a previously evenly-contested match, as India now looks set to press home their advantage. Dhruv Jurel’s half-century was another bright spot and a positive sign for Indian cricket’s future prospects. The team’s strategy, their adaptation to challenging conditions, and their unyielding quest to carve victory from the jaws of adversity paint a canvas of resilience on Day 3 of the Ranchi Test. With momentum firmly on their side, India now looks ahead with an aim to capitalize on their advantageous position and seal a memorable win in this intense Test contest.

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