IND vs AUS: Ravindra Jadeja is back with a bang

Ravindra Jadeja registered his 11th five-wicket haul in the Tests during a stunning spell in Nagpur in the first Test against the Aussies.
Ravindra Jadeja was at his best in his comeback Test.?width=963&height=541&resizemode=4
Ravindra Jadeja was playing in an international match after five months.

Steve Smith didn't do much wrong on that wicket delivery. You can't blame him for playing for the turn either on that ball. Smith looked comfortable for a fair share of the time on the crease before that ball.

But then there is Ravindra Jadeja and his vicious natural variations. The penultimate delivery before the wicket landed in the same area, at around 5m good length. That turned after pitching and took the edge off Smith's willow. The low bounce of the pitch and the soft hands ensured that the ball didn't carry to Virat Kohli at slip.

However, the grip and turn - albeit minimal - were enough to cast doubt in the batter's mind. Even if the batter is Steve Smith.

Consequently, Smith played for some turn on the next ball, but it went straight with the arm - crashing the stumps. The Aussie batter has had trouble off the arm ball, having been dismissed four times in 66 balls before today [Data credit:].

But you'd expect Smith to negate it on that surface, which was far from unplayable. He was also playing the line of the ball against Jadeja, which means Smith was ready to be beaten by the turn. This was the fifth time Jadeja dismissed Smith in the Tests; the third time via bowled.


Ravindra Jadeja was at his usual best - giving absolutely nothing - right from the first ball. In fact, his first ball of the day turned past the outside edge off Marnus' bat.

In his first five overs, Jadeja bowled all of his deliveries between 4-6m length - which was a fair reflection of his impeccable control. The two batters - Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith - looked perplexed against him at times in an otherwise controlled innings in the first session. It never looked like he was playing his first international match in five months.

His line of attack was on the middle and leg stump, majorly, at the start. One of the reasons for the wicket column being blank in the initial session. A few deliveries that turned were from the off-stump line - like the one that got a thumbs up from Smith himself.

Ravindra Jadeja adjusted his lines precisely post-lunch, and that unleashed his beast mode. The amount of turn proliferated, and so was its consistency.

Before dismissing Labuschagne on the fifth ball of the 36th over, Jadeja bowled all four deliveries with a flatter trajectory. Even Marnus knew that he would be induced to drive now. But Ravindra Jadeja is inevitable.

Jadeja flighted the ball and slowed it down a bit, which pulled Labuschagne out to drive. A whiff of dust after landing was enough to beat him. The ball turned 7.5Β°, while the average turn in the day was around 2.6Β° only.

It was such an obvious and straightforward strategy. But that's what Jadeja's Test career has always been. Nothing too fancy, but very effective.

By the time of this wicket, Jadeja was lethal enough to dismiss someone with a technique like that of Matt Renshaw. No wonder it took him just one ball. Renshaw's front foot was struck, and the ball turned enough to hit on the pad. Expect Jadeja and other spinners to make life hard for Renshaw if he bats with that technique.

Peter Handscomb had already tried sweeping Jadeja off a full-length pacy delivery Jadeja before pushing it back on the first ball of the 62nd over. This was a sign enough for the Saurashtra-born to keep firing them consistently. It only took him three balls to plumb Handscomb in front of the wicket.

That was also the fastest delivery of the over, which resulted in Handscomb missing the sweep. Jadeja started celebrating his 11th five-for, even before the umpire could raise his finger.


Jadeja stifled the batters by piling on the dot balls, and the lack of strike rotation compelled them to play aggressive shots regularly. Doing that requires an extreme level of risk due to his pinpoint accuracy. Even today, he bowled 97% of the deliveries on a full and good length. It won't be an exaggeration to say that it is impossible to attack Jadeja throughout the innings in a home Test match.

Ravindra Jadeja has been doing it for India for several years now. Still, this performance was remarkable due to numerous reasons. He was returning to this level after going through rigorous rehab after his knee surgery, which he admitted himself.

"The period after surgery was tough - I had to undergo a lengthy rehab and training. There were thoughts about when I will get fit."

"But the two months after injury was very tough because I was unable to walk and neither could go anywhere," he added.

Moreover, it is never easy to perform straight away after a brief hiatus. While he did play in the Ranji Trophy before the series, this level was a notch higher than that. His skills were never under scrutiny, but there was ambivalence about his ability to get back on track right away.

Ravindra Jadeja sidelined all the speculations on the first day itself. Jadeja looked well in rhythm and relaxed throughout the day. India would want him to remain like this now that he is back.