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November 23, 2011
R Ashwin, the India offspinner, has said he felt cheated by the lack of bounce on the Wankhede pitch in Mumbai as the West Indies batsmen batted out two days in succession to reach 575 for 9. West Indies made their highest score in the three-Test series, helped by Darren Bravo's 166 and half-centuries by the rest of the specialist batsmen in the side.
"You can't expect the wicket to turn on the first day of a Test match. But you do expect some bounce," Ashwin said. "This game, I was definitely expecting some bounce. So I felt cheated in that regard."
The Wankhede pitch is known to offer bounce, unlike other Test venues in India. However, the theory was proved wrong on the opening day as West Indies chose to bat and ended the day at 267 for 2. Ashwin broke the opening stand of 137 and also took the only other wicket to fall on the day. The rest of the bowlers struggled to penetrate the top order on a pitch that was unhelpful to seamers and spinners.
Ashwin, playing in only his third Test, said he was baffled by the nature of the pitch, having come with bigger expectations.
"This is my eighth game at Wankhede and this is the first time I am seeing a wicket like this. I am quite surprised. It is very much like the practice wicket to the left. I was praying it wouldn't be like that but … It is [usually] one of the most sporting wickets in India. So it is disappointing to see it behave like this."
West Indies' dominance on the second day was built around a stand of 160 between Kieran Powell and Darren Bravo. Pragyan Ojha broke the partnership when he dismissed Powell for 81, before the debutant Varun Aaron, who had a difficult opening day, went on to claim three wickets. Ashwin returned to add two more wickets to his tally, including that of Marlon Samuels, to end with 4 for 154 off 51 overs.
"In first-class cricket, you turn up everywhere and you expect the tracks to be like this," he said. "But there is a pattern to it as in if you bowl a good set of 40 overs from one side and not give away too many runs, you know you will end up with a few wickets at the end of the day."
He said his wickets came at a cost. "Yesterday I thought I went for much more as we had to go for wickets. If I hadn't tried in that last spell we might have gone without a wicket on the day. Today it was more of a catch-up game. We had to restrict them at some point. Fortunately Varun bowled really well and got us those wickets in the middle of the innings. I thought Bravo did wonderfully, in partnership with Edwards and Powell."
With West Indies batting themselves into a position of safety, Ashwin said India's task will be to make the most out of this surface, which hasn't changed in nature. He joked that India will have to adopt the strategy often used in high-scoring domestic games.
"Like Ranji Trophy cricket we have to get the first-innings lead, bat as long as possible and see what we can do on the fifth day."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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