This combination of images shows India's Ravindra Jadeja using his bat like a sword as he celebrates after reaching his half century during the third day of the fourth and final Test against Australia at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium (HPCA) in Dharamsala yesterday. He ended up scoring 63 for India to score 332. Pic/AFP
World No 1 Test bowler, Ravindra Jadeja proved his worth, first with willow, scoring a brilliantly paced 63 off 95 balls (4x4, 4x6) to help India overhaul Australia's first innings total of 300 by 32 runs, and then return with 3-24 to dismiss the visitors for a paltry 137 on Day Three of the series-deciding fourth and final Test here yesterday.
India, 19 for no loss at stumps on Day Three, need just another 87 runs to win and reclaim the prestigious Border-Gavaskar Trophy with two full days of play to go.
Jadeja's contribution has been invaluable. Beginning the day on 248-6, still 52 runs shy of Australia's first innings total of 300, the visitors expected the Indians to fold up quickly. "It was very frustrating for us in the morning because we were hoping to pick up the four wickets within an hour, end up with a slight lead and maybe a bit more momentum going into our second innings. But they played very well," said Australia batting coach Graeme Hick yesterday. The direct reference was to Jadeja and wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha (31 off 102) who put on a seventh-wicket series record stand of 96 runs off 180 balls to take the game away from the visitors.
Jadeja, in particular, was incredible against the raw pace of Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins who were steaming in at 140kmph-plus consistently. The highlight of Jadeja's knock had to be his brazen hook for six against a 145kmph Cummins delivery aimed at his head. He later described that shot as: "Nothing much. We needed quick runs, as after me and Saha, we didn't have too much of batting left." There was a similar nonchalance with which he took on the bowlers in the morning and described the pressure in the evening.
"It was a tough situation as there was seam and bounce in the wicket. Their fast bowlers were bowling 140-plus, but it felt good to see these kind of situations in Test cricket. Today, I realised what exactly people mean when they talk about the challenges of Test cricket," said the all-rounder, who incidentally had been adjudged out caught-behind by umpire Marais Erasmus on the first ball of the day off Cummins, before the DRS saved him. He eventually perished with India on 317-7, after misreading the bounce of a Cummins delivery and played one on to his stumps.
The India tail collapsed 15 runs later, but Jadeja wasn't done yet.
After India's pace duo of Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar made early inroads, Jadeja accounted for Shaun Marsh (1), Cummins (12) and Steve O'Keefe (0) to emerge top contender for the man of the match award.
Jadeja Figure out
63 Ravindra Jadeja's highest score against Australia, eclipsing the 54 not out in the Ranchi Test earlier this month
121 Number of wickets Jadeja has claimed in 22 Tests at home, averaging 19.88