India's hot property against Australia - spinners who can bat

In Delhi, where India slumped to 66-4 and then to 139-7 replying to Australia's first-innings 263, Ashwin, Jadeja and Patel contributed 134 priceless runs

By Reuters

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India's Axar Patel plays a shot during the second Test. — Reuters
India's Axar Patel plays a shot during the second Test. — Reuters

Published: Mon 20 Feb 2023, 3:16 PM

India's spin trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel were always going to play key roles in the home series against Australia but few, particularly the touring side, expected so much of it would be with the bat.

The three have done justice to their primary role, sharing 32 of the 40 Australian wickets that tumbled in Nagpur and Delhi to help India retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 2-0 lead in the four-test series.

While they, rather predictably, wreaked havoc on tracks designed to suit their craft, equally telling has been their contribution with the bat.

Batting at nine and eight, Patel's 158 from two innings is second only to Indian skipper Rohit Sharma's 183 and is more than any Australia batsman has tallied in the series so far.

The lower-order trio scored 177 runs in India's 400 in Nagpur to set up their innings victory inside three days.

In Delhi, where India slumped to 66-4 and then to 139-7 replying to Australia's first-innings 263, they contributed 134 priceless runs out of a team total of 262.

Ashwin, as his five Test hundreds suggest, is no dud with the bat, while Jadeja's three centuries include an unbeaten 175 against Sri Lanka.

"They are not lower-order (batsmen), let's get that clear," Australia spinner Nathan Lyon said after Saturday's play in Delhi.

"Axar and Ash could easily bat in the top six in a few teams in Test cricket around the world.

"They have a very long top order, let's just say that," said Lyon.

It has been particularly frustrating for Australia to somehow get past the Indian top order only to be thwarted by the tail.

"It's probably been the difference in both games," Australian captain Pat Cummins told reporters after their six-wicket defeat on Sunday.

"It's something we'll look at. It's disappointing – those small margins in both games end up making a pretty big difference."

His India counterpart, Rohit, considers it a "blessing" to have spinners who can contribute crucial runs down the order in low-scoring contests.

"It's a big plus to have your batting go as deep as possible. It is something we've been trying to get for many years," Rohit said.

"It gives you that advantage as well when the bowlers are a little tired after bowling 60-70 overs, these guys come in and play some shots."

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