Ashwin praises Jennings for debut ton

Mumbai, Dec 8 (IANS) Star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin heaped praise on England opener Keaton Jennings for notching up a century on debut on the opening day of the fourth cricket Test against India here on Thursday.

Jennings scored 112 runs to propel the visitors to a strong position by tea before India fought back to restrict England to 288/5 to end the first day’s action on an even keel at the Wankhede Stadium.

Jennings thus became the eighth English opener and the 69th batsman in the history of Test cricket to hit a century on debut.

The South Africa-born left-hander was dropped when he was yet to open his account in his debut Test and then capitalised on the “life” given to him.

“Obviously, a debut century is very special. I just had a weird feeling when he was dropped early on in his innings. He has had a great season and just continued from where he left off I guess. He has got a very tight defence and looks like a very good player,” Ashwin told reporters at the end of the day’s play.

Excellent batting by Jennings, Moen Ali and Alastair Cook helped the visitors to a strong position at 196/2 by tea but the Indians took three wickets in the final session to stage a strong fightback.

Ashwin, who spearheaded the Indian comeback by claiming the wickets of Jennings and Moen Ali, opined that good bowling in the post lunch session laid the foundation for that successful spell.

“I thought the rewards in that spell came from what I did in the afternoon session because I thought I bowled a really good spell then to Jennings and Moen Ali.

“I got Root out in that spell but I thought that was one of the better spells of the day and I think I got rewards for it as soon as I came back in the third spell,” he said.

“Wankhede has generally been a win the toss and bat first kind of pitch. So we knew the odds will be against us. Generally there is some moisture in the morning and we wanted to capitalise on it, but could not unfortunately.

“But the afternoon session was not bad even though we gave away 90-odd runs and took only one wicket. But that was a big wicket. We got Root so we thought if we get a couple of wickets and patch it up by getting four or five wickets it would be nice,” the Chennai spinner added.

“Getting six wickets would have been nicer.”

Ashwin also defended India’s less than perfect fielding, asserting that the catches that they dropped were really tough chances.

“We can’t be hard on those catches. They were less than 50-50 so we have to give it to them. Yes we have put down a few catches including me over the series but those cannot really count as chances,” he said.