Ravindra Jadeja might give the impression of a happy-go-lucky character, but he has risen to become a serious match-winner with the ball from being seen as Ravichandran Ashwin’s support cast. (DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS)
The all-rounder is a crowd favourite, and the packed M Chinnaswamy Stadium roared everytime he touched the ball. And he didn’t disappoint, capturing his second-best haul of 6/63 to help India gradually take the upper hand in the second Test on Monday. It was Jadeja’s best bowling figures against Australia. His previous best against Australia was five for 58 at Delhi in 2013-14. (SCORECARD)
India were 213/4, a lead of 126 runs with two days left to play on a gradually deteriorating pitch.(LIVE STREAMING)
It was Jadeja who put India there, taking five wickets at the end where there was less wear and tear, proving his wicket-taking skill. On Day 2, he smartly got opener Matt Renshaw stumped, after having skipper Steven Smith caught off bat and pad for 8. But it also raised the question why skipper Virat Kohli had been reluctant to bowl him more.
Pacers Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav, along with Ashwin, pegged Australia to 197 runs on Sunday. But it was Jadeja who got wickets even on a helpful surface. And it was the under-bowled Jadeja who restricted Australia to 276, and a first innings lead of only 87.
Thus it was a surprise Jadeja bowled only 21.4 overs while Ashwin sent down 49 overs, taking 2/84. Even Ishant (27) and Umesh (24) bowled more.
On Sunday, Jadeja was taken off after three overs, immediately after removing Aussie skipper Steven Smith. And when handed a longer spell --- 11 overs --- later he rewarded the team with two crucial wickets.
On Monday morning, he wrapped it up by taking three wickets in 10 deliveries.
The contrast in spells stood out as Ashwin, despite the number of left-handed batsmen, didn’t adopt an attacking line, and instead mostly trying to hit the rough outside their leg-stump. And he kept going in the evening session on Day 2 despite looking tired.
But it was nothing unusual. Even in the last Test against England in Chennai, on a docile pitch, Ashwin toiled without success, and the match had looked a certain draw with the visitors reaching lunch on the final day at 97 for none.
But enter Jadeja, the man dubbed ‘Rock Star’ by Shane Warne. He turned the game on its head, capturing a career-best 7/48 to bowl India to win.
India batting coach, Sanjay Bangar, said: “What was happening was since we were bowled out cheaply in the first innings (189), bowling medium-pacers was definitely part of Virat’s plan to keep the run rate down.
“And because the left-handers were batting from both ends, we wanted to exploit the rough with Ashwin bowling from the pavilion end. In that process, Jadeja didn’t get to bowl the number of overs he would have ideally liked to bowl on Day 2.”
Jadeja’s forte is speed and a well-disguised delivery that comes in with the arm. Both will make a difference when India bowl at the Aussies.