With the sun scorching on the dry, slow-moving terrain of Paarl, conditions were ideal for Ashwin to make his comeback. Yuzvendra Chahal, whose career reached dizzying heights when he bamboozled the South Africans in the ODI series in 2018, had to apply the chokehold from the other side. Just when it looked like the two spinners were going to spin the South Africans, Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma released the sweeping shot – both the reverse and the conventional.
The two ended their spells, conceding 53 runs with Ashwin claiming Quinton de Kock’s wicket early in the innings. The sweep shot, the weapon of choice for most foreign hitters, managed to negate the threat of spin, which captain KL Rahul bragged about on the eve of the game.
Interestingly, Ashwin and Chahal were playing in tandem for the first time in their careers as they both tried to stay relevant. The likes of Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Rahul Chahar and Washington Sundar are all in the running to become India’s top spinners with the white ball.
Everything seemed to fall into place when Rahul threw the ball to Ashwin in the 12th. The small bite of the field was enough for Ashwin to settle into a Test match line and length. He cheated Quinton de Kock in the air for his third ball only to have Shreyas Iyer bombard him to the point. He continued to throw the ball before firing in an arm ball to shake de Kock’s stumps. However, the sweep disrupted the line and length of both spinners. India had no wickets in the middle.