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All hail the spinners Ashwin and Jadeja

S Kannan
S KannanDec 06, 2015 | 09:50

All hail the spinners Ashwin and Jadeja

It's not easy to bring in crowds for a dead rubber, if the fourth Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla could be called one. After weeks of uncertainty, when it almost appeared the Test would be moved out of the capital following clearance issues with local bodies, the match is on and India is in the driver's seat again.

Small records have been set in this Test, and most importantly, the match is going into the fourth day. Watching the proceedings from a distance, it has been positive to see Justice Mukul Mudgal work hard to make the Kotla look so much better.

His promise of bringing in schoolchildren from humble backgrounds is a great gesture, as getting into this old venue isn't easy. Those who have managed to get inside the arena say the kids have enjoyed their first outing as they have even been presented T-shirts and given food packets.

At a time when Test cricket is trying various experiments to draw spectators, Justice Mudgal deserves praise for the efforts he has made. In Australia, the pink ball is being used under lights and in India, the idea of getting children in free of cost has worked. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the Indian cricket board (BCCI) can use this as a model to attract crowds at venues where empty stands present a sad picture. Next year, India is hosting the ICC World Cup T20, and if anyone still doubts the ability of the Kotla to host a match, it needs to be dispelled.

Agreed, all this would not have been possible without someone like Justice Mudgal to monitor all the activity. Looking ahead, till such time as the mess in the DDCA is not sorted out, it would not be a bad idea for the BCCI to directly appoint people of such stature to supervise the preparations.

The 22-yard strip has been the topic of discussion throughout the Test series. In fact, it had reached the stage of obsession where even former cricketers were blaming the curators and ground staff for producing turners from Day One.

This time around, the Kotla wicket has been different. Just as there was some grass on the surface when Ranji matches were played this season, the wicket for the Test was prepared with care.

Leaving some grass meant the wicket was going to hold and not crumble so that the spinners could turn the ball viciously from the first session. And it's this character of the pitch which saw Ajinkya Rahane playing himself into form in the first innings with a classy ton. As one bestowed with style and substance, Rahane was watchful at the start and then showed how good a stroke player he is. If India is now in the comfort zone with a lead of over 400, the wicket has shown there is no devil in it.

On Saturday, after wickets fell early, it was time for local hero Virat Kohli to play himself into form and score an unbeaten 83. Agreed, he is scoring these runs at the flag end of the season but should he go on to complete his century on Sunday, it will well be worth the effort.

This has been one series where the Indians have been criticised for "doctoring" pitches and winning matches. However, what's important to note is the Indian spinners - R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra - have shown great skills in bamboozling the South African batsmen.

So much so, the mindset of the visitors seems defeatist as they have not shown the stomach for a fight at any point in the Test series. There are two days to go in the Kotla Test and the wicket is bound to deteriorate.

Should the Proteas bat poorly, as has been the case in the series, one cannot blame it now on the pitch. While everyone will agree Ashwin has been world class for a long time, the emergence of Jadeja has been a revelation.

It's not as if he is bowling at his home ground in Rajkot on a treacherous track. From Mohali to Nagpur and Delhi, Jadeja has impressed with his nagging accuracy.

Undoubtedly, Ashwin and Jadeja have been the talking point in the Test series which India have dominated throughout.

Last updated: December 06, 2015 | 09:50
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