Ashwin sparkles as India looks poised for victory vs England

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FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 8, 2021 file photo, India's Ravichandran Ashwin throws the ball to a teammate during play on day two of their third cricket test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, Australia. Local hero Ashwin delivered a series of body blows to England as the tourists struggled to 53-3 at stumps on day three of the second test against India on Monday, Feb, 15. With England needing an unlikely 482 for victory, Ashwin followed up his century with the bat by dismissing Rory Burns for 25 while fellow spinner Axar Patel claimed 2-15. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, file)

CHENNAI, India (AP) — Local hero Ravichandran Ashwin delivered a series of body blows to England as the tourists struggled to 53-3 at stumps on day three of the second test against India on Monday.

With England needing an unlikely 482 for victory, Ashwin followed up his century with the bat by dismissing Rory Burns for 25 while fellow spinner Axar Patel claimed 2-15.

Earlier, Ashwin (106) scored his fifth test century and captain Virat Kohli made 62 as India was bowled out for 286 in the second innings.

Having picked up a 29th five-wicket haul in England's first innings, it meant 34-year-old India all-rounder Ashwin registered a century and bagged five wickets in an innings in the same test for the third time in his career.

He moves ahead of Garfield Sobers (West Indies), Shakib al Hasan (Bangladesh) and Jacques Kallis (South Africa) on the all-time list and now trails only England’s Ian Botham, who achieved the feat five times.

“I have been practising with batting coach Vikram Rathour and would love to credit him with how my batting has come through over the last four or five matches," Ashwin said. "I played a lot of sweep shots today and we had a plan against Jack Leach. I am thankful the plan paid off.”

Post tea, Ishant Sharma was caught for seven off Leach, who finished with 4-100. Fellow spinner Moeen Ali also took 4-98.

Ashwin then pushed the score beyond 250 in Mohammed Siraj’s company before reaching his century off 134 balls, to much celebration from the crowd at his home ground.

The two batsmen added 49 runs for the last wicket to add insult to injury for England. Olly Stone (1-21) finally dismissed Ashwin in the 86th over to close out the innings.

“I don’t know when the next test is going to be here in Chennai but I am pleased," Ashwin said. "Once Siraj came, I knew how to approach it. I was thrilled for his batting and told him to go through the line of the ball. It was amazing to see how excited he was when I got my hundred. I can’t thank the crowd enough. They have been very supportive.”

England, facing a mammoth task in the final innings of the match, lost its first wicket when Patel trapped Dominic Sibley lbw for three.

Burns and Dan Lawrence put on 32 for the second wicket before Ashwin had Burns caught at slip as he played against the turn.

Six balls later, Patel dismissed nightwatchman Leach for a duck.

Joe Root came out to bat and survived a huge lbw shout before the close of play. In a strange DRS call, the ball seemed to be hitting the stumps but the in-form England captain survived owing to the umpire’s on-field, not-out decision.

At stumps, Lawrence was unbeaten on 19 while Root was two not out.

England is 1-0 up in the four-match series.

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