Ravindra Jadeja celebrates his fifty in a grand style Test of the England-India series. And that will be irrespective of the result that will surface at the end, because already by now he has arguably been the best performer in the side.
A handy four-wicket haul was how he re-introduced himself back in the all-whites, having been benched throughout the series until now. R Ashwin was India’s first-choice spinner all along, and even Kuldeep Yadav got a chance as his deputy in a game. But that backfired, and the visitors chose to stick with the lone spinner, thereby keeping Jaddu on the sidelines. It was the Tamil Nadu man’s injury that eventually proved to be a blessing in disguise for him.
On Day one, Jadeja gave India the first breakthrough, sending Jennings to Rahul’s hands. He later took up Stokes’ wicket and was one of the chart-toppers in economy rates as well. On Day two, he responded to the team’s call once again, picking up the vital wickets of Jos Buttler and Stuart Broad, both of who were scoring well. Then it was India’s turn to bat, and it all went well as long as Kohli was there in the middle. But then he fell, and so did Rishabh Pant, and the visitors started sniffing trouble at 160/6.
With less than three overs remaining in the day, Jadeja managed to survive the rough testing phase and resumed batting with Hanuma Vihari today’s morning (Day three). The duo went on to pile up 77 runs for the seventh wicket. Though Vihari was the designated batsman between the two, Jadeja’s innings looked more balanced.
Soon Vihari left, and Jadeja was assigned the task of batting with the tail – never an easy task. With Ishant and Shami not being able to deliver with the willow, they soon found themselves at 260/9, and Bumrah was the last man.
What followed was an exhibition. With ample support from Bumrah who still went run-less in a 50-minute stint, the left-hander thrust and parried his way through a barrage of deliveries – Anderson, Broad, Rashid, Moeen Ali – all of them proved futile.
Finally, on the last delivery of the 85th over, Jadeja slapped a Moeen Ali ball through extra cover and picked four, also registering the 50-run mark. He followed the feat up with an elaborate celebration, with him “dusting off” his bat and pump his chest – probably a gesture to the team management who made him “gather dust” for so long. Then came out the quintessential “the sword wrangler” as well. Look at the shot and the celebration.
The Indian innings finally ended at 292, as Bumrah got run out trying to give the strike to Jadeja. The latter had, meanwhile reached 86 not out – his highest in English soil.
England has since started their second inning and is currently at 57/1. They now have a 97-run lead.