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R. Ashwin plays mind game

During the first day of the first Test between India and Australia, R Ashwin attempted to get into Marnus Labuschagne’s mind.

After being reduced to 2-2, Australia received a much-needed partnership on Day 1 of the Nagpur Test against India when Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne combined for a spirited half-century stand. The Indian spin combination of Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, and R Ashwin fought valiantly against both hitters. Australia reached 76/2 at lunch on Day 1 as the three spinners combined to bowl 22 overs but went wicketless.

With the exception of a handful of times, the Nagpur pitch, which was under scrutiny even before the commencement of the Test match, presented no issues. 

Ashwin plays mind game

One ball to Smith burst from the rough and flew off for byes off the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja, while a specific delivery from R Ashwin climbed on to Labuschagne. The Ashwin delivery was thrown full, but when Labuschagne sought to defend it, the ball soared and smacked him high on the batter’s left leg.

Ashwin was up to his tactics right away, gesticulating to Labuschagne, practically warning him about the spin on offer. In an oblique message to Labuschagne, Ashwin looked at wicketkeeper KS Bharat and signalled at him by twirling his index finger, attempting to instill fear in the batter’s psyche.As predicted, Ashwin drew Labuschagne’s attention, but the hitter refused to let the spinner settle. He also conveyed his point by responding to Ashwin with a few lines.

Labuschagne is playing his debut Test match in India. The world’s top-ranked Test batsman has spent a long time training to bat in India, and his maiden performance has been rather spectacular. At the end of the first session, Labuschagne was undefeated on 47 off 110 balls, joining Smith in a 74-run partnership. Despite Smith being run out by Virat Kohli on the first slip, Labuschagne didn’t make a single mistake. He hit eight boundaries, all perfectly timed, and appeared unshakeable. Meanwhile, Ashwin is one strike away from reaching 450 Test wickets for India.

Ravindra Jadeja struck twice in one over off back-to-back deliveries to terminate Labuschagne’s gutsy effort just after lunch. Jadeja first had Labuschagne out for 49 with a fantastic stumping by Bharat, and then he had Matt Renshaw out LBW for a first-ball duck.

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