Ravindra Jadeja puts game in M S Dhoni’s hands with Michael Clarke gameplan. Nightwatchman Nathan Lyon fell on the last ball of the sixth over of the morning. The 28th of the Australian innings. As the scorers shifted their plates from 89/3 to 89/4,Michael Clarke walked in. Stiff back and so forth. Had M S Dhoni been on top of his game the way he had been for the better part of the Chennai and Hyderabad Tests he would have instantly brought on Ravindra Jadeja. Instead,the Indian captain would prolong the spells of Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha for a further seven overs.
In that time,a struggling Clarke who visibly suffered while running between the wickets would score 11 runs in 15 balls,including two fours. Enter Jadeja and all that would come to a crashing end.
In his third over of the day,Jadeja got Clarke to face all six balls for the first time. The variations in Jadeja’s length and speed had the Australian captain guessing,with a solitary edge Clarke had tried to work the ball towards midwicket rolling to the fine-leg fence. Jadeja’s next over was a maiden. And then one more. And then,in the 47th over of Australia’s innings,it took Jadeja a ball to put Clarke out of his misery.
It was bowled at a gentle pace,full on Clarke’s pads. The batsman was late in flicking it. It resulted in a thin edge on to his pad flap,which was nabbed by Cheteshwar Pujara at short-leg. Ecstatic,Jadeja celebrated his first wicket of the innings much like a bowler does a five-for with all five fingers stretched out for the attention of the crowds and the rest of his team. It was,after all,a five-wicket haul of sorts. Jadeja had scalped Clarke in five out of six innings this series.
In fact,had Dhoni given him a chance earlier,he could have had a Clarke hat-trick. On an abrasive Hyderabad wicket,Jadeja had bowled perhaps the ball of this series,when he got both drift and turn to knock Clarke’s off stump down. And here in Mohali,Clarke counted more footsteps to and from the dressing room than his innings clocked seconds. First ball,Clarke stepped out and was stumped by Dhoni.
This was quite an achievement,considering that last year,when Clarke was enjoying one of the best years ever recorded by a Test batsman,Jadeja wasn’t even in the reckoning for a spot in the Indian Test side.