Ashwin wreaks havoc, India thump Australia by an innings and 132 runs in Nagpur

Nagpur, 11 Feb: A wily Ravichandran Ashwin blew away a panic-stricken Australia with a fifer as India dismantled visitors’ second innings in a single session to win the opening Test by a comprehensive innings and 132 run-margin, here Saturday.
After taking a massive 223-run first innings lead, India decimated Australia for just 91 in 32.3 overs with the Test match finishing inside three days at VCA stadium in Jamtha.
It’s rare that an Australian innings folds inside one session.
After Axar Patel’s career-best 84 and Mohammed Shami’s entertaining 37 took India to a commanding first innings total of 400, Ashwin (5/37) literally mauled the Australians with the new ball, taking his 31st five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
The Australian batters once again made the cardinal mistake of playing the pitch rather than the bowler and looked utterly confused on whether to defend or attack.
The Indian innings showed that demons were in the minds of Australian batters and not in the 22-yard strip.
The intent was to be positive but even with all the simulated training sessions, it was always going to be difficult to read Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja (2/34), latter playing the second fiddle this time.
They didn’t have slightest clue which one was turning and which one was coming straight.
Usman Khawaja (5) after hitting a boundary was lured with a tossed up off-break outside his off-stump and his half slash-half drive effort went into Virat Kohli’s hands in the slips.
Marnus Labuschagne (17) hit a few boundaries but when Jadeja flighted one which turned a shade after pitching, the right-hander premeditatedly rocked on to the back-foot rather than coming on the front-foot.
The result was an easy leg-before decision.
David Warner’s (10) stay was struggle and after he charged Ashwin to get two boundaries, Ashwin bowled a slider and he wasn’t half forward this time and got rapped on the pads.
Matt Renshaw was then trapped on the backfoot and right-hander Peter Hands-comb got a classical off-break which would have disturbed the timber anyway. Alex Carey for the second time went for a non-existent sweep shot and perished.
Steve Smith could only helplessly watch as wickets fell like nine pins at the other end. He tried delaying the inevitable without much success.
Mohammed Shami (2/13), after a solid batting show put the final nail in the Australian coffin by trapping Scott Boland.
Earlier, Axar Patel’s resolute 84 and Shami’s entertaining 37 gave India a massive 223-run first innings lead. The hosts posted 400 by third day lunch session after resuming the day at 321 for seven.
They wouldn’t have envisaged that Australia had lost it in their minds even before they came out to bat for the second time.
India had practically out-batted Australia on a track which the visiting media alleged was “doctored”.
Jadeja (70) and Patel began the proceedings but the former did not last long as he shouldered arms to a Murphy delivery that was fired in from an angle and crashed on to the stumps.
The pitch didn’t change its character much and it remained a slow turner where any batter, ready to grind, would get runs.
Lunch was taken when Indian innings ended.
Shami, who was dropped on 6 by Boland at long-on off Nathan Lyon, decided to launch a swift counter-attack on opposition best bowler Todd Murphy (7/124).
He hit the bespectacled off-spinner for three sixes — a slog sweep over mid-wicket, a flat six over long-off and monstrous hit over long-on — apart from a couple of boundaries during his 47 ball stay.
Adding 50-plus runs in just over an hour (65 minutes) was laudable and Patel on his part gave Shami bulk of the strike.
If Australia had any chance of wrapping it up, Boland’s goof up proved costly as Shami made them pay dearly.
While Murphy has been impressive on debut, Lyon’s (1/126) performance has been disappointing to say the least as his bowling lacked the bite.
Almost all the Indian batters found it easy to defend the veteran off-spinner off the back-foot.
Once Shami was dismissed going for his fourth maximum off Murphy, Patel decided to attack and lofted the debutant straight into the sightscreen for his first six.
His and India’s innings ended when he was bowled by rival skipper Pat Cummins. (PTI)