ICC World Cup INDvsAUS: Jadeja steals the show at Ashwin’s homecoming

Five-time champions Australia lose their way to muster a below-par total in Chennai

Ravindra Jadeja in jubilation during his three-wicket haul (Photo: Getty Images)
Ravindra Jadeja in jubilation during his three-wicket haul (Photo: Getty Images)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

It was supposed to be a homecoming for Ravi Ashwin at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Sunday, 8 October. But it was Ravindra Jadeja who stole his thunder.

The left-arm spinner allrounder, who also knows a thing or two about the venue after his seasons with the Chennai Super Kings, did most of the damage as hosts India laid down a likely template for their ICC World Cup campaign. 

A look at the wicket had convinced the Indian management about playing a three-pronged spin attack of Ashwin, Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav — a combination of class and variety.

However, if Yadav struck the first blow for the spinners after Jasprit Bumrah provided the initial breakthrough, Australia still looked in control, with a watchful Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne at 110 for 2. 

However, it was a peach of a delivery from ‘Jaddu’ which bamboozled Smith and triggered a middle-order collapse, with the five-time champions eventually being bowled out for a below-par 199 in 49.3 overs. The former captain, looking settled at 46 off 71 balls, lunged forward to one which landed on the middle and off stump and then just spun enough and bounced to nip back Smith’s off stump.   

‘’I just tried to bowl wicket-to-wicket and was mixing up the pace. It was only the odd ball which turned, not every ball,’’ said Jadeja, who also picked up Labuschagne and wicketkeeper Alex Carey to end with figures of 10-2-28-3.

If Jadeja stood out for his nagging length and line, Yadav kept the batters — as well as KL Rahul behind the stumps — guessing with his wrong one.  

As for Ashwin, his return to the World Cup fold at 37 years was nothing short of dramatic.

The only other survivor apart from Kohli from the squad which won the 2011 World Cup, the crafty Chennai man showed what the team would have missed if he was not in the mix of things.  

He may have just returned with the wicket of Cameron Green and finished with 34/1, but the way he kept the pressure on the batters with his experiments was remarkable. 

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