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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Jadeja shines, tail wags as India take sizeable first-innings lead

Irrespective of conditions, Jadeja is un-droppable in this team. The left-hander had his share of luck, surviving a run-out opportunity on four.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty |
Updated: August 7, 2021 12:30:31 pm
Ravindra JadejaRavindra Jadeja, right, fist bumps with batting partner KL Rahul to celebrate scoring runs during the third day of first test cricket match between England and India, at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. AP/PTI

After a James Anderson masterclass, India edged ahead, taking a formidable 95-run first-innings lead. Ravindra Jadeja once again showed his value as a genuine all-rounder and exhilaratingly, India’s tail wagged. Anderson’s 4/54 was a connoisseur’s delight. Ollie Robinson bagged his maiden five-for in Tests, but support around them was non-existent.

Mohammed Shami stayed with Jadeja during a 27-run eighth- wicket partnership. Then, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj added 33 runs for the last wicket to take India’s total to 278. England’s fielding was poor and Sam Curran, in particular, bowled too short at 130kph. Indian tail-enders accepted the favour gleefully.

Irrespective of conditions, Jadeja is un-droppable in this team. The left-hander had his share of luck, surviving a run-out opportunity on four. KL Rahul pushed a Robinson delivery in the cover region and a horrible mix-up ensued. Dan Lawrence had oodles of time, but his throw was nowhere near the target. Jadeja went on to score 56, hitting eight fours and a six off Anderson.

Over the last two years, he has been in glorious batting form, scoring 637 runs in 13 Tests at an average north of 53. This is a testament to his batting improvement. Jadeja came to long-form cricket predominantly as a front-foot player but the recent development in his back-foot game has been immense.

Ravindra Jadeja India’s Ravindra Jadeja plays a shot during the third day of first test cricket match between England and India, at Trent Bridge in Nottingham. (AP/PTI Photo)

Sample this: Pretty early into his innings, Robinson bowled one short into Jadeja’s ribs. The batsman rode the bounce and flicked it to fine leg for a four. On the last ball of that over, Robinson made one kick off a good length just outside off-stump. Jadeja left it alone, watching it all the way to the wicketkeeper. He did it against Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc at the MCG last winter. The England seamers were a few yards slower. During his 16th Test fifty, Jadeja moved into an elite club – 2,000 runs and 200 wickets in this format.

Rahul was India’s top-scorer with 84. But uncertainty crept in during the second half of his innings, thanks to Anderson’s mastery. And yet, despite two dropped catches, the opener was the glue in Indian batting, consuming 214 deliveries and 346 minutes. Two years ago in Kingston, his last Test before his re-entry in this game, Rahul looked to be a prisoner of his confusion; whether to stay true to his natural attacking style or adopt circumspection. At Trent Bridge, his approach was pretty clear. He drove deliveries that merited that shot, but more importantly, left the ball very well outside off-stump. Eventually, Anderson proved too good, but Rahul’s innings in difficult conditions served the team very well. His 60-run sixth-wicket partnership with Jadeja could well be game-turning.

Highlights:

Rishabh Pant’s departure was tame. Extra bounce from Robinson negated his driving attempt and a simple catch popped up to Jonny Bairstow at short cover. Pant played and missed, hit streaky boundaries, and had a top-edged six against Robinson. Words were exchanged between him and the England bowlers. From the purists’ point of view, his batting style wasn’t what the doctor ordered in English conditions. But in the context of the game, Pant’s 25 runs and the time he spent with Rahul in the middle arrested a middle-order slide.

Sloppy hosts

The slippery palms of the slip fielders were serially letting down Anderson. The 39-year-old missed out on Rahul’s wicket on Thursday, when Dom Sibley dropped the batsman at second slip. On Thursday, Joe Root dropped Rahul off Anderson at first slip, when the latter was on 78. The veteran bowler, visibly unimpressed, heaved a sigh of relief after Buttler took the catch to dismiss the Indian opener. “Into the gloves, not naked hands, and gloves are a lot safer,” Michael Holding said on TV commentary. The wicket took Anderson past Anil Kumble to become the third-highest wicket-taker in Test history.

Spare a thought for Robinson. Sent to the sin-bin for his social media transgressions as a teenager, the medium pacer returned to claim 5/85, bowling tirelessly for 26.5 overs. But Stuart Broad and Curran were disappointing, giving away 127 runs between them without a wicket in 35 overs. Their no-show hurt England.

The hosts were 25 for no loss when rain brought down the curtain on the day’s play. The weather forecast for Day 4 isn’t very bright either.

Brief scores: England 183 & 25 for no loss trail India 278 (Rahul 84, Jadeja 56; Robinson 5/85, Anderson 4/54) by 70 runs

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