We have to bat longer to maintain edge: Ashwin

Bengaluru, Nov 14 (IANS) It is important for India to bat for a long time in the first innings and score as many runs as possible to maintain their advantage over South Africa, ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin said here on Saturday.

Looking relaxed after the hosts restricted the Proteas to 214 on the first day of the second Test at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here, Ashwin said the first session on the second day would be crucial for India though openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay started well and were still at the crease with 80 runs on the board.

“We have to see through the first session by staying at the wicket as long to first cross their score (214 runs) and make as many runs to put pressure on them in the second innings,” Ashwin, who claimed a four-wicket haul, told reporters after the end of the first day’s play.

Indian captain Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to bowl first to take advantage of the moist pitch conditions which offered plenty of slow turn to the spinners and also assisted pace bowling.

After losing the three-game T20 and five-game one-day series to the visitors, India beat South Africa by 108 runs in the first Test at Mohali in Punjab on November 7. The hosts wrapped up the game within three days which saw as many as 40 wickets fall.

Admitting that he was not surprised over Kohli’s decision to bowl first, the 29-year-old Tamil Nadu spinner said on hindsight that it paid off, as the hosts were able to bundle out the Proteas by the third session of the first day for a paltry score.

“It was a rational decision to bowl first, as the pitch was damp in the morning and we wanted to see how it would behave later in the day. It did help us to bowl well,” Ashwin noted.

Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja also took four wickets, including the crucial one of AB de Villiers, who was going strong at 85 in his 100th Test. Varun Aaron took the important wicket of South African skipper Hashim Amla while Kayle Abbott was the lone batsman to be run out for 14.

“Jadeja bowled very well, especially after the lunch session and bottled them up at one end, putting pressure on all batsmen who faced him. He also restricted them from going after big runs,” Ashwin pointed out.

Ashwin also praised Ajinkya Rahane for doing a good job in the slips and taking a brilliant catch off his bowling to get rid of Jean Paul Duminy.

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