Ravichandran Ashwin reckons that the 22-yard strip at the SCG has eased considerably and backed two of India’s finest exponents of Test match batting — Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteswar Pujara — to once again come good in a pressure situation. India will need to bat 90 plus overs on the final day of the third Test and score another 309 runs with Pujara and Rahane aiming to save the match by batting out the whole day.
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“The pitch has been quite slow, and it has been good to bat on. In fact, the balls that we saw misbehave yesterday, the ones that went up and down, has also kind of come down because of the slow nature of the pitch,” Ashwin said after the fourth day’s play. The pitch has now been baked in sunshine which wasn’t the case on the first day.
“I also think the roller is playing a role. And because the game started off with the pitch not seeing a lot of sun, the wicket is getting better to bat as the sun is belting down on it. “As a team, behind in the game, like we are, we are hopeful we can put a good performance in the first session tomorrow.” The first session on day five will be crucial and Ashwin has full faith in Pujara and Rahane’s abilities. “It is very very important that we play a good first session tomorrow,” Ashwin said. “A very very ideal and good first session would be to not lose a wicket. These two gentlemen out in the middle have proven through their career how good they are playing this format of the game and playing many good knocks for us. “Ajinkya has got a hundred at MCG and Puji (Pujara’s team nickname) has got a fifty in the first innings. We are all very hopeful that they will put in a good performance.” When asked if India can get 309 runs in a day, Ashwin added: “In a Test match, you don’t look at the overall score on the final morning and say we must go for a win.
“It just doesn’t happen quite so much like it happens in white-ball cricket. There are passages of play in the red-ball game that are much more different and you are playing on a day-five pitch. “And also sometimes when you play to the merit of the ball, you stay in, sometimes you put yourself in a situation in the last session where you can take an initiative, but you don’t go into the morning saying ‘chalo hum teen sau bana denge’ (let’s go, score 300).” .