Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates after scoring a century against England at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Monday. Twitter photo
Gulf Today Report
Star all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin scored a rollicking century and took a key wicket to help India tightened their grip in the second Test against England at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Monday.
Tourists, who face a daunting target of 482 to win, were struggling at 53 for three at stumps on the third day. Dan Lawrence, on 19, and skipper Joe Root, on two, will resume batting Tuesday on the turning pitch.
Ashwin scored 106 runs off 148 balls with the help of 14 fours and a six as India's second innings came to an end at 286 in the post-tea session. Mohammad Siraj remained unbeaten on 16, and added 49 runs for the final wicket with Ashwin who was the last wicket to fall.
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India then knocked out openers Dom Sibley (3) and Rory Burns (25) as well as night-watchman Jack Leach (0) to set England back in chase of 482. England are still 430 runs adrift.
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel took two wickets including Sibley and Jack Leach. "There is spin on offer but it depends how much speed you hit (as a spinner). Bowling slow is not helping," Patel told reporters.
Pundits have criticised the pitch at MA Chidambaram Stadium with former England captain Michael Vaughan calling it a "Chennai beach." But Patel said no one should have reservations about the pitch.
"When we go outside India and get seaming tracks, we don't say that the pitch has too much grass. People should change their mindset," he said.
England spin coach Jeetan Patel said the team will not throw in the towel. "We have got to keep staying positive. We have got stroke makers in the group and we want them to keep expressing themselves," said the former New Zealand spinner. "I am not going to say we are going to win this game but we are going to shake a stick at it."
Following up on his five wickets in the first innings, Ashwin got Rory Burns caught at slip for 25 to take his match tally to six.
Ashwin scored his fifth Test century and first against England before India were bowled out for 286 in the final session. Spinners Moeen Ali and Jack Leach claimed four wickets each.
England have been battling to avoid defeat since a first innings collapse on the second day, and will have to mount a record run chase to secure a miracle victory.
Freak run out The Chennai-born Ashwin survived reprieves on 28, 56 and 70 runs.
He then got to his hundred with an edge to the boundary, which was met by loud cheers from the home crowd. He put on a 96-run seventh-wicket stand with skipper Virat Kohli, who made 62 before falling to Ali's off spin.
Ashwin got help from number 11 Siraj to get to his century as they put on 49 runs for the final wicket. Olly Stone bowled Ashwin to end India's innings.
"I don't know when I will play my next Test here, but I'm very pleased," said Ashwin.
"I was just telling Siraj to look at the line of the ball and go wherever he wants. It was a funny thing and it was exciting to see how he (Siraj) celebrated and that says a few things about the dressing room." Resuming the day on 54-1, India lost five wickets in the morning session with Ali and Leach combining to do some damage.
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