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14 January 2018, 03:20 | Henrietta Morgan
Bhuvneshwar Kumar celebrates after dismissing Hashim Amla in the first Test in Cape
Except that Ashwin produced the hugely disappointing figures of 0-83 off 36 overs as South Africa claimed a draw, and almost won. "So I will wait until South Africa has a go on this wicket and then take a call on that", he said. And it hurt Ashwin's professional pride that he couldn't deliver that day.
The 23-year-old Titans star continued his outstanding start to global cricket with a magnificent 94, in the process lifting his Test average to a dream-like 73 and becoming the second fastest South African to reach 500 Test runs - in his fifth match.
South Africa Playing XI: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungisani Ngidi, Morne Morkel.
On the face of it South Africa's close of play total compares with the average first day score at this venue of 263/6 but the teams are not playing on an average SuperSport Park pitch.
So far on tour, Ashwin has five wickets for 114 runs in 39.1 overs. Despite the selectors making few changes in the team, the final result was not what many expected. "I am not made that way at least". It's also the 100th Test wicket for Shami. Since then, Ashwin has 205 wickets in 38 Tests at 23.82. A bowler with less than three wickets a Test has been part of a 20-wicket mission. Because at the end of the day, I think I had a bit of cushion there to try all those things.
Although Ashwin (3/90 in 31 overs) did most of the damage the plaudits were equally due to their seamers who stuck manfully to their task in unhelpful conditions coupled to extreme heat.
"Then we walked into the round yesterday (Friday) and it was white and all of the grass was coming off it". But having gotten hit in the first spell, I thought he came back really well. That's the way it goes, right?
Be it Sachin Tendulkar or cricket great Don Bradman, Indian skipper Virat Kohli has often been compared to legendary cricketers because of his form and batting style. "So, this was one of those days". What that means now, is that Ashwin is keyed up for every Test match, regardless of what has gone before. Learn from the mistake you made and go forward. As you play more and more, you get to know a lot about the wickets.
"It's always challenging whenever you come to a new country".
Additionally, he credited the county stint with Worcestershire for aiding him in this process. And the county stint helped him bowl on a day one pitch in Centurion.
"I think this was a good last session for us".
Putting all speculations aside, Ash had bowled his heart out giving India the much-needed relief after the first day's play.Speaking to the reporters after the action in the middle, Ash said that it was one of the most relaxing days of his career. "I like to believe I was just dogged enough", Ashwin said after the day's play. It was clearly a lucky wicket for the visitors as Elgar jumped down the track and hit the ball straight at Vijay who somehow managed to hold onto that one after it hit his body.
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