Australia vs India 2018-19: Kohli should bowl Ashwin from one end all through the innings on Day 3
Even though the ball is relatively new, Virat Kohli must straightaway give the ball to Ravichandran Ashwin from the first over itself on the third day of the Adelaide Test.
Both batsmen at the crease, Travis Head and Mitchell Starc, are left-handers, and Ashwin has a great record against left-handers. So this seems like a straightforward decision.
However, there have been quite a few instances during Kohli’s Test captaincy career when he has tended to take Ashwin away from the attack, especially if he goes for some runs in an over or two.
The runs are certainly at a premium here, and as Ashwin said after the second day, every run is like gold dust from now on in this Test. However, Ashwin is too good a bowler to be carted around by the tail-enders.
Sure, Starc is a naturally attacking batsman, and there is a possibility he may choose to attack Ashwin. But on a pitch as slow and difficult as this, there is every likelihood of him miscuing.
Ashwin has bamboozled far better left-handed batsmen than Head in his career, and if he gets to bowl enough balls to him, he has a good chance of getting him out. It is difficult to imagine Head getting the better of Ashwin for any length of time on a third day pitch that is getting increasingly difficult to bat on.
So Kohli must begin the third proceedings with Ashwin from one end and rotate his fast bowlers from the other end. Jasprit Bumrah, with his pin-point toe-crushers and surprise bouncers, is the obvious choice to bowl in tandem with Ashwin.
There is every likelihood that this pair won’t take long to clean up the tail. But in case wickets don’t come soon, Kohli should not get frustrated, and should persist with Ashwin. He is too good an off-spinner to bowl to two left-handers for some length of time and not pick up their wickets.
Of the two other batsmen yet to bat, one is a left-hander. So at any point of time, there will be at least one left-hander at the crease till the end of the innings. This is all the more reason why Ashwin must be persisted with, till the end of the innings.
Moreover, a few more wickets for Ashwin will boost his confidence even more, and that could come in handy when India bowls a second time in this match. And Kohli would hope that his premier spinner would have a decent target behind his back in that second innings.