Border-Gavaskar Trophy: Ravindra Jadeja sets the tone for India with 11th 5-wicket haul in sensational comeback
Ravindra Jadeja last played for India in the Asia Cup against Hong Kong in August last year. Then a long recovery began as he underwent knee surgery to get back on the field.
On Thursday, Ravindra Jadeja destroyed Australia with his 11th 5-wicket haul in Test cricket and 4th against the Aussies. Jadeja last played a Test match in Birmingham in July, but it doesn’t look like he has been away for long.
Ravindra Jadeja missed the T20 World Cup in Australia, the Test series in Bangladesh and several bilateral series, and there were moments when the Indian cricket fraternity began to worry about his chances for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
At the end of January, Ravindra Jadeja was declared fit enough to play for Saurashtra in their Ranji Trophy match against Tamil Nadu. Jadeja took 8 wickets in 41.1 overs in the match and spent time at the crease with the bat to convince the Indian team that they were ready for the Test series against Australia.
Ahead of the first Test, Ravindra Jadeja told BCCI.TV that his first day in professional cricket after a frustrating period was “strange”.
“The first day I went to the ground, I felt different,” Jadeja told BCCI.tv. I wondered if my body would survive 90 overs on the first day.”
However, Ravindra Jadeja needed that tuning for the crucial Test series against Australia.
After Pat Cummins won the toss and elected to bat, quick wickets from David Warner and Usman Khawaja saw Mohammad Shami and Mohammad Siraj take the Aussies. Immediately, Rohit Sharma hit Ravindra Jadeja in front of Axar Patel and R Ashwin on the Nagpur pitch that captured the imagination of the Australian media.
Jadeja bowled 9 tight overs, Marnes Lapuzagne and Steve Smith responded with a solid partnership. There were moments where you could see how dangerous Jadeja was in India, but with no demons on the surface, both Australia batsmen managed to get into the groove.
At that point, you might have wondered if R Ashwin should have bowled Smith and Labuschagne earlier, especially as Australia were bowled over by the fast bowlers. But Jadeja’s move will pay off soon.
Immediately after lunch, Ravindra Jadeja stunned Australia – a happy dressing-room at lunch that saw 32 overs from the Indian attack. But within two balls, Jadeja turned things around for the hosts.
First, Marnes dismissed Labuschagne with a deftly bowled slow ball outside his crease as KS Bharat completed the stumping. He then trapped Matt Renshaw to lbw to bowl Australia out.
Steve Smith was always going to be India’s biggest thorn, but Jadeja took care of that too with very little twist. The Australian run-machine was defrauded as his innings was cut short by yet another tricky delivery from someone who has troubled Australia on countless occasions.
After R Ashwin took Australia further down with the wickets of Alex Carey and Pat Cummins, Jadeja took the wicket of debutant Todd Murphy to push the tourists further back.
How quickly fortunes can change in a Test match in India. Australia were concerned about the dry areas outside the left-hander’s off-side, but by then, they were outdone by two good deliveries from two fast bowlers and several tricks from a world-class spinner.
The Australian bowler’s action was similar to that of R Ashwin, ready for a big threat. However, they were destroyed by a comeback man who had long been Ashwin’s partner in India’s dominant run in Test cricket.
Looking back at what Ravindra Jadeja has gone through in the last 5 months, it has not been easy. He started training with weeks to go before the highest Test series in years. Nevertheless, he played his heart out and clinically demonstrated India’s dominance at home. The pitch has little to do with Jadeja’s delivery or Ashwin’s wickets. There was nothing on the pitch that the Indian spinners got any extra help – it was all about resilience and craft of the highest order.