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Jadeja makes memorable comeback; has best average against Australia since 2013 (minimum 70 wickets)

Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23: Ravindra Jadeja makes memorable comeback; has best average against Australia since 2013 (minimum 70 wickets). Ravindra Jadeja got player of the match in Nagpur Test against Australia.

Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-2023, India vs Australia, Nagpur Test_ Ravindra Jadeja gets player of the match for his 7 wicket haul and 70 runs; India beat Australia _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Jadeja gets player of the match for his 7 wicket haul and 70 runs (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

One of the main weapons for India’s win in the first Test of Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23 was the all-round contribution from India’s premier all-rounder, Ravindra Jadeja who was making a return in the India side after a five-month injury lay-off.

Australia were rolled over for just 177 in the first innings as Ravindra Jadeja wreaked havoc with magical figures of 5/47. India extracted a lead of 223 runs thanks to a 120-run knock from captain Rohit Sharma, a useful 70 from Jadeja and Axar Patel’s 84-run knock. The visitors had no answer to India’s spin during their second innings as Ravichandran Ashwin’s 5/37 packed them up for just 91, their second lowest score against India as the hosts began the series with a mighty innings and 132-run victory, their third-biggest innings win over Australia.

Jadeja has top bowling average amongst left-arm spinners with 200+ wickets in Tests

India broke quite a few records in the Nagpur Test as mentioned above but Ravindra Jadeja upped the ante in his own way. The slow left-armer loves playing against Australia as against them, Jadeja has now picked up 70 Test wickets in 13 Tests which is his best record against a single opponent, next only to his 51 wickets in 16 games against England. He is only the fourth bowler apart from Stuart Broad (111), Ravichandran Ashwin (88) and James Anderson (71) with that amount of success against Australia since the start of 2013.But he has the best average of 18.12 amongst these bowlers against Australia.

It is quite astounding that Jadeja has the best average amongst left-arm spinners with at least 200 wickets in Test history. Of the 6 left-arm spinners with at least 200 Test wickets, no one has a better average than Ravindra Jadeja’s 24.34. If the section is widened to add all spinners with a 150-wickets cut-off, then only four spinners - Jim Laker, Muthiah Muralidaran, Ravichandran Ashwin and Clarrie Grimmett - sit above Jadeja. This certainly makes him one of the great spinners to have played the game, particularly at home.

With bat in hand, Jadeja also has the 11th best average of 47.56 in 31 innings in Men’s Tests since the start of 2019 with a cut-off of 1,000 runs. The left-handed batter is also just the second Indian player in the list of top 11 in terms of batting average with at least 1,000 runs since 2019, apart from Rohit Sharma who has 1,672 runs at an average of 57.65 in the given timeframe. Jadeja’s heroics in Nagpur Test was also the sixth instance the all-rounder scored 50+ besides taking a five-wicket haul in a Test.

“I was bowling 10-12 hours everyday and that helped me a lot”: Jadeja

After India’s second game against Hong Kong during the Asia Cup 2022, news broke out that India’s all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury. After quite a few months, he went through a successful surgery and spent time at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru to regain his match fitness and hone his skills for his comeback to the team.

“Very happy with the way I was bowling; I was enjoying my bowling,” Jadeja addressed how hard he was working on his fitness and skills at the NCA. “Playing after five months, playing Test cricket, it’s tough but I was prepared.”

“I was working hard on my bowling when I was in Bengaluru at the NCA,” Ravindra Jadeja who was bowling 10-12 hours everyday said. “I was working on my rhythm because I knew that I have to play Test matches and I have to bowl long spells.”

The way Jadeja made his comeback in international cricket and even in the Ranji game for Saurashtra against Tamil Nadu at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai was impressive. It might seem to be an easy job but to be under the heat, it can’t be done so comfortably the way Jadeja displayed.

In the first innings in the game against Tamil Nadu, Jadeja had figures of 2/48 in 24 overs while in the second innings, he swamped the home side’s batting line-up with 7/53 in 17.1 overs. Even though Saurashtra lost the game, Jadeja showed enough evidence to be a part of the India team.

The ingenuity and consistency in Ravindra Jadeja’s bowling

When Ravindra Jadeja snatched the ball on the first day of the Test match, it was going to be his first ball in international cricket since July 2022. After losing couple of wickets, Australia repaired themselves well thanks to an 82-run partnership for the third wicket between Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith, the number one and number two batters, respectively, in ICC Men’s Test batting rankings.

Jadeja kept it tight for his first quite a few overs and even though he wasn’t getting any wicket, he kept it simple, bowling a stump to stump line making life hard for both the batters. It was just the way Jadeja has bowled regularly over the years.

Labuschagne was on 49 and looking for his maiden Test fifty in India as he saw Jadeja coming to bowl with a dense field set-up. The first four balls were played easily but the batter couldn’t go past the fielders as signs of frustration were visible on Labuschagne’s countenance. Jadeja went back to his mark and pushed the fielder at covers little wider as the batter found a place to get his most awaited run. But this time, Jadeja going wide of the crease invited Marnus for the drive with a very slow delivery as Labuschagne stretched forward only to lose his balance and got dragged out of the crease, before debutant wicketkeeper Srikar Bharat broke the furniture to stump Labuschagne on 49.

On the very next ball, Jadeja hit a fuller length as the new left-handed batter, Matthew Renshaw tried to flick it away but was totally beaten by the sharp turn and got struck on the pad. Almost immediately, umpire Nitin Menon raised his finger; even though Renshaw applied for the review, it was just clipping leg stump as the umpire’s call was upheld by technology. Jadeja brought India back in the game in his own way with two back-to-back scalps.

The ‘big fish,’ Steven Smith was caged when Jadeja, playing with the batter’s mind, sent him back. The three balls in the 42nd over were around the same spot - the first one was defended, the next one turned to take the edge, while the fifth ball planted a bit of doubt in the batter’s mind. Smith on 37 off 106 balls, played the last ball of the over expecting turn but Jadeja with the straight delivery went right through him to disturb the stumps.

Just after the tea break, Jadeja with a quicker delivery trapped Peter Handscomb before the stumps to climb his 11th Test five-wicket haul to finish with 5/47 in 22 overs.

During the second innings, by the time Jadeja was introduced into the attack, his companion Ravichandran Ashwin had already showed his magic. But Jadeja trapped Marnus Labuschagne on 17 with a quicker delivery that pitched around middle & leg and turned sharply. Even though the ball with which he dismissed Steven Smith the second time in the game was a no-ball, it is going to put so much doubt in Smith’s head going forward in the series. Jadeja finished with 2/34 in 12 overs in the second innings.

“I was looking to bowl in good areas; ball was spinning and going straight, keeping low,” Jadeja revealed at the post-match presentation. “I kept telling myself to bowl at the stumps and look to keep things simple.”

Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-2023, India vs Australia, 1st Test, Day 1_ RAvindra Jadeja scores crucial half century (66_) for India against Australia _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Jadeja scores crucial fifty (70) for India against Australia (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Jadeja has showed immense improvement in his batting

The last time Jadeja batted in a Test match, he smashed an excellent 104-run knock with the bat in a 222-run stand for the sixth wicket with Rishabh Pant at Edgbaston in Birmingham against England in July 2022 to save India from early trouble. When he walked out with the bat in the first Test against Australia, India were struggling at 168/5 losing four wickets for just 50 runs and someone was required to stay with Rohit Sharma.

Jadeja showed immense reserves of patience early in his innings: he never tried to drive a ball that was pitched in the rough and the endurance he displayed in that knock was perhaps missing even from some of the upper order batters from both the sides. The left-hander smacked his first boundary flicked in the gap at mid-wicket before cutting the short ball past the backward point region.

Given he was playing with soft hands, there were quite a few shots that went in the third man region. He partnered Rohit Sharma for a 61-run stand for the sixth wicket, before registering a vital 88-run partnership with Axar Patel for the eighth wicket. Jadeja managed a great 70-run knock in 185 balls with the help of nine boundaries. Jadeja now has 2593 Test runs in 61 games at an average of 37.04 with 18 half-centuries and three tons.

India will hope Jadeja keeps on showcasing his brilliance throughout the duration of Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23.

The second Test of the four match Test series will begin from February 17 at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi. However, the third Test match which will be played from March 1-5, has been shifted from Dharamsala due to an unfit outfield; the game will now be held at the Holkar Stadium in Indore. The fourth Test will be played from March 9-13 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.


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