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Ashwin's overseas best couldn't beat rain as India slip in rankings

Ashwin's overseas best couldn't beat rain as India slip in rankings

India have dropped two points and one place to be at fourth position in the ICC Test team rankings after the drawn match against Bangladesh in Fatullah.

It was just about the finish expected in a Test that saw more rain that a battle between bat and ball as India skipper Virat Kohli shook hands with Bangladesh opening batsmen settling for a draw after the hosts were asked to follow-on on the final day that, like the previous four days, was damp for the most part.

A Test that was largely affected by rain and poor drainage facilities with only one super sopper at Fatullah, draw was as inevitable as the prediction of rain in the month of June in Bangladesh.

With whatever little play that was possible over five days, India made a few gains and it will hold them in good stead for the long season ahead.

While draw was not the best result for India, it is impossible to fight the weather. But it has hurt India, who have slipped down from No. 3 to 4 in the ICC Test rankings and it won't go down well with the new Test skipper.

But apart from the weather and the result, most things went in India's favour - starting with winning the toss. India made best use of the pitch as Shikhar Dhawan (173) and Murali Vijay (150) both scored centuries and the visiting team managed to score 462 for 6 before declaring, without too much resistance from the hosts.

Another big plus for India was R Ashwin's bowling as the offspinner was back in his elements playing in the subcontinent. Ashwin finished with figures of 5 for 87, which is his career best performance overseas.

The loop and the bounce that Ashwin was able to extract was far more than any other spinner bowling on the Fatullah track, and given the fact that the other offspinner in India's eleven, Harbhajan Singh, could not quite get the same purchase off the track, Ashwin's performance becomes even more noteworthy.

The ball came out nicely from the hand for Ashwin and his five-for is good enough to illustrate his exploits on a pitch that assisted the spinners but was far away from being called a rank turner.

From Ashwin, let's shift our focus to the man who, for over a decade, has given sleepless nights to a lot of batsmen, including the likes of Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist.

For most part of the Test, people just queued in to watch Harbhajan bowl after being in hibernation for almost two years, but Bhajji failed to make a major impact in the match, although he returned with figures of 3 for 64.

While Ashwin got it to turn and zip through the track, Harbhajan just could not extract the same kind of bounce or spin off the wicket, which made the difference appear bigger than what it probably was.

However, one-off Test match might not be enough to judge a player's form or his repertoire, and so might be the case for Harbhajan. After all, bowling in an IPL match is a whole lot different than bowling in a Test match.

While it might come off brilliantly in the nets and you seem to have got the rhythm back, come the match situation and it will take some time to unveil the old bag of tricks or just getting used to the pace of the game, as was the case with Harbhajan during this Test. Just to make things a bit more difficult for him, the stop-start nature of a rain-hit Test didn't help Harbhajan settle down either.

So while Ashwin, Dhawan and Vijay were India's biggest plus at Fatullah, Harbhajan kept most of his fans guessing.