Ravichandran Ashwin sounded a warning bell for the English batsmen ahead of the five-Test series with a superb match-turning spell of 6 for 27 as Surrey bundled out Somerset for 69 in their second innings of the English County Championship contest here.
Looking to get some quality match practice ahead of joining the Indian in Durham on Thursday, Ashwin did more than enough with 58 overs under his belt and a match haul of 7 for 127.
If the first innings was used towards about building bowling workload and hitting the good areas, the second innings was more about showing his skill-sets with the famous carrom ball bamboozling opposition batsmen.
In fact, the veteran off-spinner bowled 15 unchanged overs with the new Dukes and got able support from left arm spinner Dan Moriarty who took 4 for 20 as Somerset were all out for 69 in only 29.1 overs after scoring 429 in their first essay.
This was after Surrey was all-out for 240, adding only a single run to their overnight score of 239 for eight. Surrey now chase a 258-run target.
The script entirely changed in the second innings as Ashwin ran through the opposition getting enough drift and also using the carrom ball and off-breaks judiciously.
Left-handed opener Steven Davis edged one to wicketkeeper Jamie Smith while Jaden Clark caught Tom Lammonby. Skipper and first innings centurion James Hildreth was adjudged plumb in-front when he missed a straighter one.
The difference from first innings was extra bounce that Ashwin got off the pitch and one such flighted delivery, turned a shade and bounced enough to fool George Bartlett who shouldered arms.
Only three Somerset batsmen got into double figures. Ashwin’s performance is a welcome sign for skipper Virat Kohli, who would like his premier spinner to be in peak form during the Test series starting August 4.
Opposition will also be wary and Surrey skipper Rory Burns will certainly be providing inputs along with rival left arm spinner Jack Leach.
The Indian contingent will assemble in Durham where they would play a three day game against Combined Counties (Select County XI) from July 20-22.
There is a possibility that the match might get extended from three to four days in case inclement weather plays spoilsport.
With 58 overs under Ashwin’s belt, the Indian management might check out the other bowlers during that game.
The players would undergo another round of RT-PCR testing as they enter the bubble after 20-day break following the World Test Championship final against New Zealand.