The second day of the second Test between India and England at Vizag saw the Indian spinners returning to a zone in which they exert maximum control, and then damage. With the pitch starting to take turn in the final session, England lost four wickets and fell right into India's spin-trap.
India's cause to restrict England was given a boost early when Mohammed Shami zipped one past Alastair Cook's defence, and broke the off stump in half. Haseeb Hameed and Joe Root added a calm 47 thereafter before a misunderstanding cost Hameed his wicket. Going for a second run, the opener was sent back, but Jayant Yadav, with a quick release from deep square leg, and Wriddhiman Saha's smart flick onto the stumps ensured that Hameed was caught short. Root had looked edgy throughout and never really in comfort with Jadeja spinning the ball past his outside edge or Ashwin beating him in turn, but hung around enough to get 53.
That however mattered little for by now, the ball was spinning a lot more and India had their close-in fielders preying around the bat as well. England went through a 44-ball period where not a single boundary was scored but 3 wickets were lost for 15 runs.
This was the kind of pitch that Virat Kohli had sought after the draw in Rajkot. Run-making was still not an impossible task but India's spinners appeared to be summoning demons every time they pitched the ball. England went into wicket-saving mode quickly and that allowed India to continue piling on the pressure.
Ben Duckett looked all at sea against Ashwin's offspin before being bowled in ugly fashion, opening up his stance and seeing the ball spin past his bat to hit the stumps. The period of play was also one that made run-scoring seemingly an impossible task and Root's patience finally ran out as he jumped out to try and hit Ashwin, but sliced it to mid off.
The pressure was clear and imminent by now. Moeen Ali looked to use his feet a lot more but debutant Jayant Yadav got Kumar Dharmasena to reverse an LBW decision when the batsman was struck on pad first to a ball going straight on. England had lost half their side while being close to 300 in deficit.
England could have been worse off, coming very close to losing Ben Stokes for 6. A ball from Yadav saw the ball clipping the bail but failing to dislodge it completely. Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes continued the defensive marathon but managed to stay unbeaten at stumps, and added 23 off 88 balls to take England to 103 for five at stumps, and capping off a good day for India.
By the end of the day, it seemed like the first two sessions were played on a completely different pitch. India had started the day at 317 for four and in pursuit of getting a big first innings score. Virat Kohli, unbeaten on 151 overnight, was expected to be the man to take them forward but the skipper was out caught at slip off Moeen Ali for 167. Ben Stokes, who had dropped Ashwin off the previous ball at the same position, made amends this time. But the drop catch did prove costly as Ashwin scored a useful fifty - his eighth in Tests - while also adding 64 with Jayant Yadav (35) for the eighth wicket as India stretched their first innings score to 455.
England, at one stage, had a good chance to bowl India out for a lot fewer when three wickets fell in the space of 25 balls, with Moeen Ali getting Wriddhiman Saha and Ravindra Jadeja in the same over. The former was done in by a sharp turner and was adjudged LBW even after a review. While Saha was guilty of wasting a review, Jadeja found himself doing the exact opposite when he was given out but the ball-tracker projected it to be going down leg.
At 363 for seven, India were in a spot of bother but Ashwin's increasingly composed batting, along with a confident show from Yadav helped India to a total close to their liking.