Jadeja turns on heat as Australia slump to 174 for 8 at tea

PTI, Feb 9, 2023, 2:43 PM IST

Comeback-man Ravindra Jadeja made an impressive return to competitive cricket with a four-wicket burst that reduced Australia to 174 for 8 at tea on the opening day of the first Test, here Thursday.

Jadeja (4/45), who is returning from a knee injury, bowled a probing length and got good assistance from Ravichandran Ashwin (2/41) with as many as six Australian batters falling prey to the relentless pressure put by the spin twins.

Indian spinners’ success nullified the good work of the visitors in the first session.

There is no denying the fact that there is considerable turn and bounce on offer but Australian batters too were guilty of playing some bad shots. Save Marnus Labuschagne (49), who got an unplayable delivery from Jadeja, the others either played rank bad shots or erred in judgement.

Labuschagne got a delivery that was tossed up to draw him forward. It hit one of the dry cracks to rear up as well as deviate past his bat. As he was drawn forward, debutant Kona Bharat effected his first official dismissal showing smart reflexes while effecting that stumping.

What was admirable about Bharat was his change of stance after he struggled to collect a couple of Jadeja deliveries in the first session. Both deliveries turned and jumped. Instead of crouching too low which he does with domestic spinners, he stayed on his haunches and could easily gather deliveries on his waistline in the post lunch session.

Once Labuschagne was dismissed after an 82-run stand with Steve Smith, floodgates opened as left-handed Matt Renshaw fell prey to a Jadeja delivery that hit the same spot and turned back sharply to find him plumb in-front.

Smith (37), who hit a few boundaries, was dismissed when he played the wrong line to an arm-ball from Jadeja and was bowled bat-pad.

From 84 for 2, it soon became 109 for 5 and although Peter Handscomb (29 batting) and the counter-attacking Alex Carey (36) got quick runs to get the team past 150-run mark.

Ashwin, who primarily bowled from round the wicket, induced a false shot from Carey who went for a non-existent reverse sweep while Pat Cummins became Ashwin’s second victim when he offered a regulation catch to Virat Kohli at slips.

Earlier, Smith and Labuschagne handled the Indian spinners with a lot of confidence in the first session as Australia recovered from early jitters to reach 76 for two at lunch.

Mohammed Shami (1/18) and Mohammed Siraj (1/30) removed Usman Khawaja (1) and David Warner (1) in quick succession but Labuschagne and Smith led the Australian fight back in an engaging first session.

Smith and Labuschagne showed that good technique is key to adaptability in any conditions.

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