Sydney: Early on in his innings on the fifth and final day of the third Test against Australia, India's R Ashwin was peppered with short deliveries one of which hit his ribs and the other went past his grille.
The undeterred off-spinner then tried to take it on by going for a pull shot. He was almost caught, but Sean Abbott dropped him at short mid-wicket.
With partner Hanuma Vihari suffering from a hamstring injury and unable to run, the two batters decided that Ashwin would take on the spinner Nathan Lyon while Vihari, who could sway and evade the short ball, would face the fast bowlers.
And whenever Ashwin would be put up against the pace bowlers, Ashwin would walk in and defend his ribs. It helped that many of Australia's short-pitched stuff was misdirected and inaccurate after the early burst, especially Mitchell Starc's.
The off-spinner, however, said that having the likes of Jasprit Bumrah in the nets has helped him counter the short balls.
"Pat Cummins was bowling in a different league altogether. There was a bit of double bounce, so it was difficult against Cummins. I think facing Bumrah in the nets is not easy. We have bowlers who can bowl in the 150s. I have been batting well in the nets, so it was great to spend some time in the middle," said Ashwin after the game.
In his 89 completed Test innings, Ashwin has been dismissed off short deliveries 10 times.
"Doesn't matter if you are bruised and battered, just hang in there and you will have an opportunity to fight another day!! Test cricket teaches you life!! #SydneyTest (emoticon: Folded hands) A big thanks to my team and well wishers," Ashwin tweeted after the match.
Ashwin was not even fit on Monday morning, his wife revealed on twitter.
"The man went to bed last night with a terrible back tweak and in unbelievable pain. He could not stand up straight when he woke up this morning. Could not bend down to tie his shoe laces. I am amazed at what Ravichandran Ashwin pulled off today," tweeted Prithi Ashwin after the end of the Test match.
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