India vs South Africa, 2nd Test: Ravichandran Ashwin reveals whether India will enforce follow-on on Day 4
Indian bowlers continued their dominant show on Day 3 of the second and penultimate Test versus South Africa in Pune on Saturday (October 12). After posting a mammoth 601 for 5 declared courtesy, skipper Virat Kohli's 254 not out, hosts are in the driver's seat at stumps on Day 3 following South Africa's 275 all-out in 105.4 overs.
As a result, India lead the Proteas by a humongous 326-run margin. Thus, the Virat Kohli-led side have a decision to make: whether to enforce a follow-on or opt to bat for a session, or two and set a huge target for the visitors. On being asked about India's plans for the remainder of the two days in the Pune Test, India's lead spinner Ravichandran Ashwin revealed in the post-day press conference, "At least, I haven't thought about the follow-on. I think the captain will decide overnight on what he should be doing. It is also important, how bowlers recover tomorrow morning."
Ashwin was the pick of the Indian bowlers on Saturday. There was some turn on offer and he exploited the conditions to good effect to remove Quinton de Kock, skipper Faf du Plessis (64) and South Africa's tail-enders to return with 4 for 69. Thus, he also attained 50 wickets versus the opposition in red-ball cricket. He became the fourth Indian to do so after Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath and Harbhajan Singh.
India had South Africa in troubled waters at 162 for 8. Nonetheless, Keshav Maharaj (72) and Vernon Philander (44 not out) steadied Proteas' ship with a sedate 109-run stand for the ninth-wicket. The tail-enders added 113 runs to the total before visitors were dismissed for 275 all-out.
On being asked on Indian bowlers' struggles versus the tail-enders, Ashwin responded by saying, "I think the myth of tail-enders is over-stated and when someone bats well, he bats well. Nowadays, nobody is really a mug with the bat. In our team also, everybody bats pretty well till No 11."
No team has enforced a follow-on on South Africa in the last ten years. In addition, India have never used the follow-on card versus Proteas in Test history. Will this trend change on Sunday?