India head coach Ravi Shastri, on Wednesday, denied that any injury was the reason behind Ravichandran Ashwin’s woeful performance in the fourth England vs India Test. Shastri also credited Moeen Ali for his superb bowling in Southampton.
One of the biggest talking points from the just-concluded Test was the way Ashwin and Moeen bowled. The conditions could not have been more in favour of spin. The sun was out throughout the game while the pitch was absolutely dry. The big footmarks further made it conditions perfect for spin bowling. But in the end, only Moeen managed to make the most of the conditions.
And it would not be wrong to say that Moeen winning the battle against Ashwin played a big role in deciding the outcome of the game. Making his comeback in the Test side, Moeen blew away the Indian team in both the innings.
In the first innings, India were 142 for 2 in reply to England’s 246. However, a 5-wicket haul from Moeen saw them post only 273. In fact, at one stage they were reeling at 195 for 8 but thanks to Cheteshwar Pujara’s century, they managed to take a slender 27-run lead. On the other hand, Ashwin had managed just two wickets in the first innings.
The script did not change much in the second innings either. With the pitch tearing down, India would have expected a lot from their spin spearhead. However, Ashwin could take only one wicket. But Moeen continued to make his mark with the ball. It was his spell that turned the tide in England’s favour.
Chasing 245, India were well placed at 123 for 2 with Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli batting well in the middle. However, once Moeen dismissed Kohli, the floodgates opened. He then went on to dismiss Rahane, Rishabh Pant and Mohammed Shami as India were all out for just 184, thus losing the game as well as the series.
The 9-wicket haul helped Moeen bagged the Man of the Match award while Ashwin faced criticism from all around.
There were suggestions that Ashwin was not fully fit. The off-spinner was suffering from a groin injury before the game which made many believe that it played a part in his poor performance. However, Ravi Shastri played down all those speculations and credited Moeen for his stunning performance.
“Ashwin was fit, we must credit Mooen Ali for the way he bowled,” he told the media ahead of the fifth Test.
India, meanwhile, will be looking to salvage some pride when they take on the hosts in the fifth Test at The Oval.