Controversial India ace Ravichandran Ashwin has again landed himself in trouble, drawing the ire of an umpire and widespread backlash after testing a bizarre new tactic.
On day three of the first Test between India and New Zealand, Ashwin overtook the 414 career wickets of legendary Pakistan quick Wasim Akram to move into 14th on the all-time list, but the off-spinner’s feat was overshadowed by a puzzling trick while bowling.
Late on day two and again on day three in the Kanpur fixture, Ashwin experimented with a diagonal run-up from around the wicket, in which his follow-through snaked across the umpire’s line of sight and in front of the non-striker.
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Umpire Nitin Menon disapproved of Ashwin’s follow-through despite the fact it steered clear of the ‘danger zone’, an imaginary rectangle running down the middle of the wicket that the bowler must avoid.
Former New Zealand paceman Simon Doull was critical of Ashwin’s ploy, which led to lengthy and repeated discussions between Menon and the veteran tweaker during the first session of day three.
“If the non-striker wanted to run, Ashwin gets right in front of where the non-striker would probably be running – and that is not allowed,” Doull said on Fox Cricket’s broadcast.
“The bowler can also not dictate where the non-striker stands.”
Legendary India batter Sunil Gavaskar also took exception.
“He’s gone very close to the stumps, (but) when he’s delivered the ball I don’t think he’s obstructing the umpire’s view,” Gavaskar said on the broadcast.
“What he’s doing, however, is he’s obstructing the non-striker.”
India coach Rahul Dravid and match referee Javagal Srinath were then spotted in a tense chat during the lunch break.
“Ashwin running across in his follow-through is driving everyone crazy: striker, non-striker, umpire, commentators and even TV audience,” one Twitter user posted.
Another Twitter user wrote: “The umpire’s contention could be that his view will be blocked with Ashwin running across him in his follow-through. Of course, with Ashwin staying outside the ‘danger area’, the warning cannot be issued. Trust Ash to create a conundrum even for umpires”.
Ashwin has polarised the cricket world on several occasions by claiming ‘Mankad’ dismissals, while in the Indian Premier League in September he also ran a single after a fielder’s throw ricocheted off his batting partner – an act that’s legal but against the spirit of cricket.
India reached stumps on day three at 1-14 in the Test against New Zealand, leading the reigning World Test Championship winners by 63 runs.
The hosts had made 345 in the first innings as Test debutant Shreyas Iyer, batting at five, scored a century.
New Zealand were then bowled out for 296, before India commenced their second dig late on day three.
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