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Ashwin bowled before Siraj due to moisture in wicket: Bumrah

India’s decision to bring off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin early in the first session of the opening day of the second Test against Australia was prompted by the presence of moisture in the wicket, said India pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah on Saturday.

Ashwin was brought into the attack in only the 11th over while debutant fast bowler Mohammed Siraj was not given the ball until the second session.

The senior off-spinner impressed as he picked a couple of early wickets, removing Matthew Wade in his second over and then getting rid of Steve Smith in his third, having him caught at leg slip for a duck. Ashwin had also removed Smith in the first innings of the first Test in Adelaide for one.

“When we were bowling in the morning, there was some moisture in the wicket. As you saw Ashwin and Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) also got some spin. Because we wanted to make the most of the moisture, we were trying to use that (strategy of bringing in spinners early). He was getting some good bounce as well,” said Bumrah while speaking to the media after the first day’s play as Indian bowlers bowled out Australia for 195 in the first innings.

“Ashwin got a turn and that was because of the moisture,” he added.

The right-arm pace bowler, who played a key role on the last tour of Australia taking 21 wickets, said Siraj was eager to bowl in the first session itself.

“He was very eager to bowl in the first session. He was waiting for his chance. He has worked really hard, he has come up through the ranks. He is bowling very well. He was in the midst of a good spell. When he came after the first session, there was not a lot happening but he bowled with control. Suddenly he started getting movement. He tried to make the best use of it,” said Bumrah who was the pick of the Indian bowlers, returning with figures of 4/56.

“Playing his first Test, he (Siraj) bowled really well and he used all his confidence and skills. A very heartening sign for us. Hopefully, he continues like this,” he added.

The 27-year-old also said there was a lot of discussion on the field between the bowlers and captain Ajinkya Rahane and they wanted to help each other.

India has gone into the second Test without the services of Virat Kohli, who has returned home to attend the birth of his child, and Mohammad Shami, who is injured.

“We decided that everybody is going to help each other. Siraj was making his debut… there was a lot of communication about what was going on, how the wicket was changing, and what the batsman was thinking. All these things were there in our mind,” said Bumrah.

“There was a constant discussion going on between the bowlers and the other guys with the captain. The wicket changed after the session as well. It got better to bat on. The moisture went away. So we were adjusting according to that, adapting to the wicket and the lines we were going to bowl. So we were just trying to communicate on what kind of lines we wanted to bowl so we could set the field accordingly. When there was less help, we tried to change the line a little bit and kept the field accordingly…our main goal today, help each other and try to create pressure from both ends so that we get opportunities,” he added.

India ended the day at 36/1, losing the wicket of opener Mayank Agarwal who got back to the dressing room without troubling the scorers. The visitors still trail by 159 runs and had Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara batting at 28 and 7 at Stump’s on Day One.

Bumrah said the team is looking to put up a big total and is not looking too far ahead into the Test.

“Our team’s focus is on the first session tomorrow and what we can do to bat well and score runs. All of these things we are focusing on and not looking too far ahead or past, we are trying to stay in present,” he said.

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