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Wankhede's first day takes Ashwin back to 2012

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Trott: Ashwin has started tossing the ball up very well (3:36)

Sourav Ganguly and Jonathan Trott look at R Ashwin's numbers on the first day of Tests and what makes him stand out as a finger spinner (3:36)

Arguably no other sport's practitioners and followers spend as much time as Test cricket's do on going back to the past and looking at similar in-match scenarios to try to foretell what is going to happen in a completely different match in a completely different time and played with a completely different set of personnel. Perhaps it is because of the time available overnight. Few other sports rely on the changing nature of a surface during the course of a match. Maybe motor sports because of rain, but that is not natural deterioration.

It is perhaps this mix of uncertainty and leisure that sends us back to old scorecards, and cricketers are not immune to it. All through the opening day's play, especially when flat deliveries began to go more than a metre upon pitching, we kept thinking of the last Mumbai Test between these two sides. Just to recap, India got the turner they wanted in 2012-13, won the toss, batted first, were bowled out for 327, conceded 413 and couldn't recover from the deficit against the spin duo of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar.

India ended the first day then at 266 for 6. England have managed 288 for 5. R Ashwin, who played a big part in bringing it down to a similar scoreline, couldn't help comparisons. In normal circumstances, 288 on the board on a pitch that became remarkably more difficult over the course of one day should worry India, but the way Ashwin compared the two matches should ease the nerves of Indian fans.

When asked what score India would be comfortable responding to looking at the state of the pitch, Ashwin said: "When we played England [here] last, the morning, the first day was a bit damp. It spun a little. It was absolutely flat on days two and day three. I'm seeing very similar traits here.

"We got out of jail and got to about 330-340 the last time we played them here. If we can hold them somewhere [there]... if we had got one more wicket tonight, we might have been on course to do that. Probably come out tomorrow morning, and try and snap a couple of quick wickets and see how quickly we can stall their innings."

Therein lies the difference. Then, India came back from 60 for 3 and 119 for 5 on a "damp" pitch. Here, England rollicked along to 230 for 2 before giving India an opening which Ashwin used to bring them back with three quick wickets. That should be a sign of a pitch becoming more difficult to bat on with time, as opposed to getting better on days two and three. But to put this comeback down to just the pitch would be unfair on some classical offspin bowling from Ashwin.

England had had a near-perfect first session of 117 for 1 when Ashwin began to pull things back in the second. In a mid-afternoon spell of 12-1-21-1, he cut down debutant Keaton Jennings, he claimed Joe Root yet again, and kept Moeen Ali and Jennings honest. This spell was as much about drift and dip as it was about turn off the surface. After having scored 65 runs in the first session, Jennings spent the next 40 minutes sweating for five runs, which took him 29 balls. Jennings then got away with reverse-swept and a cover-driven boundaries in successive deliveries, but Root could not.

"I must say I worked that dismissal in my head because he has got out a lot of times in the slips," Ashwin said of the outside edge he drew from Root. "In the last three Test matches we have played, he nicked one in Vizag… I thought he did, but that was overturned. But he has got a tendency to nick spinners to the slip cordon. I saw him nick Dane Piedt in South Africa. He has done it quite a few times, to Nathan Lyon as well. I was just imagining on the first day that this is one of those wickets out of the four Tests we had where edges actually carry to slips. So I was just mentally working it over and it happened."

The real rewards, though, came in the final session when England probably played one shot too many. The approach - reverse-sweeping Ravindra Jadeja, stepping out to spinners and not worrying about hitting in the air - seemed like a direct result of coach Trevor Bayliss' comments that England had perhaps played themselves into a shell in their last three innings after they had been forced to do so trying to save the Visakhapatnam Test. There can be a case made either way as to whether it worked or not, but Moeen's top-edged sweep did give Ashwin an opening.

Ashwin didn't mind it because he knew he deserved more for his toil in the afternoon. "I thought the rewards in that spell came for what I did in the afternoon session," Ashwin said. "I thought I bowled a really good spell then to Jennings, and was that Moeen Ali? Yeah. Got Root out in that spell, but I thought that was one of the better spells of the day, and I got the rewards for that as soon as I came back in the third spell."

Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler then showed the message from the coach was more wholesome. He didn't ask for mindless attack. Throughout the series, England have been throwing away parity in the last half hour of sessions and days. But here, the two batted watchfully for 13.4 overs even if brought them just 39 runs. They did what the situation demanded on a pitch they reckoned got difficult to bat on.

Ashwin, though, expects otherwise. "I think this is a very similar pitch in terms of what it had on the first day," he said. "I don't know what it was, but I am just guessing it could have been just the moisture that made the ball spin a little bit in the afternoon session, and towards the end, I think it was the seam position. The more top spinners you bowled, it started spinning more. I am just expecting the wicket to play well from tomorrow onwards."

The rest of the team and India's fans will be hoping for Ashwin's expectations to come true.