PHOTOS: Ashwin defends India's dreary tactics on Day 4
It was another day of dull cricket as England continued their dogged resistance to frustrate India and keep themselves on course for a draw which would secure them their first series victory in India since 1984-85.
Trailing 1-2 in the series, India have only themselves to blame for not making most of the opportunities and not going in for the kill. In the morning session on Day 4 of the fourth and final Test on Sunday, India wasted an hour with the bat as they managed just 29 runs in 12.2 overs. India didn't attempt any big shots and after 62 minutes of senseless batting they declared their first innings on 326 for nine, four runs short behind England's first innings total of 330.
Off-spinner R Ashwin, who finished unbeaten on 29, defended his team's tactics saying that they wanted to get level with England's score.
Image: Ravichandran Ashwin of India celebrates the wicket of Alastair Cook
'At eight down you don't have the best of abilities'
Asked about their tactics, he replied: "To just wipe out the lead, to eat as much into the lead as much as possible so that whatever they score after that it just becomes an even game nothing else."
The Indian batsmen didn't attempt even a single bit shot and concentrated only on taking singles, a strategy that perplexed many observers.
"At eight down you don't have the best of abilities at 9, 10 and 11 so you can't really expect someone to smack Anderson over the top for a six or anything with such a sponge ball. It was very soft as well."
"All through this game the average has been 70-80 runs per session so we were basically looking to take the singles. We got many 3 or 4 run overs, we were looking to just eat into the lead and they bowled just 12 overs in that particular hour so what best we could muster we did muster," Ashwin reasoned.
Image: Ravichandran Ashwin of India and Pragyan Ojha
Ashwin was unhappy with the pitch
The off-spinner, who has made 243 in the series at an average of 60, was seen refusing singles when batting with Pragyan Ojha for the first few overs before deciding to change his mind as England kept a defensive field throughout the over.
"We were looking for the last two balls for people to come in but they had a different strategy, they didn't put fielders back in the ring after the first four balls so after two overs we decided to take the singles," he said.
Ashwin was also visibly unhappy with the pitch which has stayed low and slow from the start and not given any help to the bowlers.
"Apart from the colour [of the pitch] changed that was indicated nothing else has changed," he said.
Image: R Ashwin
'I am not trying to be very optimistic but we have done it in India'
England are comfortably placed on 161 for three and looking good to draw the match but Ashwin still harboured some hopes of an unlikely Indian win on Day 5.
Jonathan Trott, who had a few verbal duels with the Indians, was batting on 66 from 153 balls, while Ian Bell made 24 to keep the Indians at bay.
"Strange things have happened. I am not trying to be very optimistic but we have done it in India before to get 6-7 wickets in a session. It is just about trying to get a couple of early wickets tomorrow -- Trott and Bell," he said.
The first four days of the match has seen 817 runs being scored in 376.5 overs at a lowly run rate of 21.6 in the era of T20 cricket. And the most discouraging state for the bowlers is that only 22 wickets have fallen in four days.
"I thought we bowled pretty well today so just have to stick to it and try and see if we can squeeze in a couple of wickets tomorrow morning."
Image: Pragyan Ojha, Virat Kohli of India and Ian Bell of England walk back at the end of days play
India's dilemma is that they have to keep a balance between attack and defence
Ashwin also pointed out that India's biggest dilemma is that they have to keep a balance between attack and defence on the final day.
"It is very hard to approach anything differently because you can't keep six or seven men around the bat and bowl and give away runs as well."
"You got to stick to the basics and try and see what happens, and as much as to the best your abilities try and land the ball on one spot and try and see what the wicket does or if the batsman makes a mistake," he said.
Image: Indian team during a team discussion