Ravindra Jadeja returns to haunt Australia on opening day of Nagpur Test
Ravindra Jadeja had been away from the Indian team for months following knee surgery but did not show any signs of rust on his return as he flummoxed Australia’s batsmen on the opening day of the Nagpur Test.
Jadeja picked up five wickets on a pitch that offered turn and variable bounce from the first session, helping dismiss the Aussies for just 177 and handing the initiative to the hosts in the opening clash of the Border Gavaskar Trophy. India concluded the day’s play on 77-1, with captain Rohit Sharma hitting a quick fifty to cap a near-perfect day.
Jadeja took 5-47 while fellow spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took 3-42 as the Australian innings folded in the final session.
However, the day began on a note not many had expected. While the focus was on spinners, India’s fast bowlers made good use of the early morning moisture to dismiss the openers. Mohammad Siraj got Usman Khawaja lbw before Mohammad Shami uprooted the off stump of David Warner.
Marnus Labuschagne (49) and Steve Smith (37) launched a fightback with their third-wicket 82-run stand but the spinners were just getting into the groove.
Jadeja removed Labuschagne, stumped by debutant keeper KS Bharat, while Matt Renshaw was trapped lbw first ball.
Jadeja then claimed the wicket of the day when he bowled Smith with a straighter delivery that sneaked through his defence.
Peter Handscomb, who made 31, and wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey, who hit 36, also put on a partnership of 53 before Ashwin ended Carey’s stint to record his 450th Test wicket.
Ashwin and Jadeja kept up the charge to get into the Australian tail when the tourists took tea at 174-8, and added just three runs in the final session.
In reply, the Indians started positively with captain Sharma hitting three boundaries off Australian skipper Pat Cummins’ first over. He put on 76 runs with opening partner KL Rahul, who laboured to 20.
Sharma reached his fifty with a four off Nathan Lyon and saw off the day’s play. Rahul fell caught and bowled off debutant spinner Todd Murphy, who celebrated his first Test wicket.
“I was looking to bowl into the stumps because there was no bounce in the wicket,” Jadeja said after the day’s play.
“The odd ball was spinning and the odd ball was going straight, so that is what I was looking to do.”
Jadeja had been away from the team for seven months and had to return to first-class cricket to prove his match fitness.
“I played Test cricket after a long time and it is tough,” Jadeja said. “I worked hard on my fitness. I bowled nearly 10-12 hours daily at the NCA (National Cricket Academy) to regain my rhythm for this series. I also played first-class cricket. I knew I had to bowl long spells.”