Ashwin shows signs of improvement in fitness

Ashwin shows signs of improvement in fitness

R Ashwin

All eyes centred on ace off-spinner R Ashwin as the Indian team hit the ground running hard at the Ageas Bowl on Tuesday, two days ahead of the crucial fourth Test against England.

Ashwin suffered a groin strain in the previous Test at Trent Bridge and bowled just one over in the first innings. Despite struggling with pain, Ashwin bowled 22.5 overs in the second innings although not at full tilt.

On Tuesday here, he started off by just throwing the ball to KL Rahul. He then bowled but slowly before hitting full gear. Ashwin then padded up for a hit at the nets. India will be hoping their ace offie reaches peak fitness by Thursday although they might not need his services too much as the pitch here sported a fair sprinkling of grass. The talk amongst locals is the track will be seam friendly.

India pacer Mohammed Shami reckoned this pitch will produce a result. “It's hard to decide to field five quicks in a Test match. According to me, you need a spinner because on the fifth day, it will turn for sure. I can definitely say that there will be a result on this wicket.”

Newcomer Prithvi Shaw, meanwhile, spent a fair amount of time at the nets, fronting up primarily to the pacers. Just 18 years old, the talented Mumbai batsman showed no nerves whatsoever as he dealt with the likes of Umesh Yadav, Shami and net bowlers with confidence. There were some elegant drives and crispy cuts in his short stay.

Shaw and other newbie Hanuma Vihari also went through the fielding drills too, the duo was given a workout in slip catching.