A brief passage of play in the second session of the first day of the fourth Test provided a microcosm of the entire series.
At lunch on Friday, Australia were a respectable 94/ 2 but 21 quick overs of spin later, the innings looked like it had been struck by a tsunami, with the scoreboard reading 136 for seven.
Ravichandran Ashwin, after looking rather innocuous against England, has rediscovered his mojo against the weak and inexperienced batsmen, and like a high school bully, he was relentless in embarrassing them.
He first bowled the technically correct Ed Cowan around his legs, got the fit-again Matthew Wade caught at silly point to a tentative poke — admittedly not the greatest decision by umpire Aleem Dar — and then bowled Mitchell Johnson with a brute of a carrom ball. All three batsmen are left-handers, for whom offspin is supposed to be the tougher variation to play.
Ashwin later snapped up Steven Smith, caught at forward short leg.
In the interim, the introduction of Ravindra Jadeja from the Tata End brought him his sixth scalp of Australia's captain in seven innings, with Shane Watson getting stumped by a mile, and the over-aggressive Glenn Maxwell self-destructed by dragging a slog to mid-on.
Both are right-handers for whom it is more difficult to play the ball turning away from them.
Between them, Ashwin and Jadeja have accounted for 45 dismissals in this series, out of Australia's total of 67 so far.
The third spinner — Harbhajan Singh in the first two Tests and Pragyan Ojha in the latter two — has managed nine.
The reason for Ashwin and Jadeja's success hasn't been something extraordinary — they have just preyed on the batsmen's patience and kept things simple by pitching the ball up and letting the friendly pitches and the weaknesses of the batsmen do the rest.
Also, they haven't required long spells to make an impact, and have responded virtually every time MS Dhoni — also their captain at the IPL's Chennai Super Kings — has thrown them the ball.
In Ashwin's case, it marks a return to the sort of form that has seen him reach 89 wickets in his 16th Test, proving that the poor series against England was an aberration, not a major decline in his art.
Jadeja's rise, though, has been unexpected, given his role as a bits-and-pieces player. He has done so well as to render specialist left-armer Ojha redundant, and seal his spot in the side as a pure bowler for the short-tomedium term, at least in subcontinental conditions. That this is a man with three first-class triple centuries is an added bonus.
The real Test for them, like for the entire side, will come in foreign conditions, especially on the hard, seaming wickets in South Africa later this year. But they have at least made sure that India, at home, won't be shown up as easily as they were by England.
(C) Mail Today. (TAG: CYCSPL)