SK Elite: When Ravindra Jadeja set up India's euphoric triumph in Bengaluru
There are some players who only turn up when the going gets smooth. On the other hand, there are certain cricketers who thrive under pressure. Undoubtedly, Ravindra Jadeja belongs to the latter category. While his limited-overs career has taken a nosedive in recent times, the star all-rounder's Test journey is progressing unabated.
Jadeja's big-match temperament can be discerned from the second Test against Australia at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru earlier this year. With the series as well as the team's reputation on the line, the left-arm spinner kept the visitors on a tight leash during their first innings and paved the way for India's remarkable comeback.
Let us relive the events surrounding Jadeja's crucial 6/63 which helped India accomplish an euphoric triumph over Steven Smith's troops.
Australia prepare to take control
Armed with an unexpected 1-0 lead, Australia's confidence did not take a hit even when the hosts won a valuable toss on a rapidly deteriorating surface in Bengaluru. Capitalising on the residual dampness underneath the pitch, Nathan Lyon produced one of the best ever spells by a visiting bowler on Indian soil.
The off-spinner scythed through India's much vaunted batting lineup like a hot knife slicing through soft butter. Even as wickets kept falling around him, opener KL Rahul rose to the occasion. The elegant right-hander's 205-ball 90 carried India to a competitive total of 189.
Jadeja spearheads India's fightback
When the second day began, skipper Virat Kohli immediately brought Ravichandran Ashwin into the attack and extracted a ten-over spell from his go-to bowler. Even though he prised out danger-man David Warner, the off-spinner as well as the Indian pacers were having a hard time separating the resolute Matt Renshaw and the in-form Smith.
In the 38th over of the innings, Jadeja was finally introduced into the equation. After finding his rhythm with a few tight overs, the left-armer rewarded his captain by procuring the prized scalp of Smith. The manner in which he generated extra bounce caught the Australian skipper unawares.
Despite picking up such a momentous wicket, Jadeja was bizarrely taken out of the attack. Kohli persisted with Ashwin even as the likes of Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma were rotated around him. When the other bowlers failed to break the blossoming partnership, Jadeja was summoned once again. In the third over of his new spell, he removed Renshaw with a clever delivery.
The left-armer proceeded to strike again as Peter Handscomb was coerced into playing a false shot. Inexplicably, he was subsequently pulled out of the attack. It was only when the boisterous Bengaluru crowd raised their collective voice that Kohli gave the ball to Jadeja towards the end of the second day's play.
Visitors wilt under enormous pressure
At a time when Australia were aiming to add quick runs to swell their lead at the start of the third day, Jadeja hastened the end of their innings with another productive spell. After dismissing Matthew Wade and Nathan Lyon in successive deliveries, he accounted for Josh Hazlewood in his next over.
While Ashwin sent down as many as 49 overs and the two seamers were given a whopping 51 overs between them, Jadeja was the least utilised bowler in the innings. Yet, he single-handedly brought his team back into the contest. From 21.4 overs, the left-armer picked up six wickets at the cost of just 63 runs.
Extra Cover: Top 5 bowling spells by Ravindra Jadeja in Tests
Faced with a deficit of 87 runs, India rode on a decisive partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane to reach 274. Chasing 188 for victory on a surface that was only getting worse with every over, Australia crumbled against the wiles of Ashwin. The off-spinner's vital six-wicket haul propelled India to a memorable 75-run triumph.
Buoyed by their euphoric win in Bengaluru, India eventually went on to clinch the series by a 2-1 margin. By virtue topping the wickets table, Jadeja deservedly pocketed the Player of the Series award. After all, his game-changing first-innings spell in the second Test had set the platform for the hosts to pounce upon and reclaim the coveted Border-Gavaskar Trophy.