Chennai Test: Ravindra Jadeja upends England

It has to take great force to go against a strong tide. Ravindra Jadeja’s probing bowling — he took 7 for 48 — and a special catch inspired India towards bringing about that force for an innings and 75-run victory against England on Day Five at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium.

Ravindra Jadeja

It was a Ravindra Jadeja show all the way at Chepauk on Tuesday.   -  Reuters

It has to take great force to go against a strong tide. >Ravindra Jadeja’s probing bowling — he took 7 for 48 — and a special catch inspired India towards bringing about that force for an innings and 75-run victory against England on Day Five at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium. A soporific contest suddenly sprung into life with wickets falling frequently in the final session of the day. When earlier, only Jadeja’s spin looked like troubling England, a few wickets later, the bowlers who looked innocuous for much of the game — >Amit Mishra and >Umesh Yadav — also chipped in to remove two batsmen of the lower order for the win. The crowd noise built up to a crescendo often, too, as England suddenly seemed ill-equipped to halt India’s charge.

> Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details

This win gave a stamp to India’s all-round authority in the five-Test series. Losing the toss? No problem. Unresponsive pitches? No problem. This was India’s fourth victory on the trot for a 4-0 series win; the draw in Rajkot turned out to be an anomaly with the relentless demolition of the opponent thereafter. Karun Nair was declared the Man of the Match for his triple century, but also significant was Jadeja's contribution on Tuesday that took India past the line.

> Chennai Test: Day five in pictures

Though the placid nature of the pitch here had not changed, England’s middle-order batsmen committed silly mistakes to give India a look-in, in the latter half of the day, and that was where they lost the Test. When the openers looked in control, Jadeja induced errors from them as England lost three quick wickets, off 23 balls. This phase of play first signalled a change in the narrative that so far suggested the match would culminate in a draw.

Read: >It is a complete performance, says Kohli

It all started with India keeping three close-in fielders on the leg-side for its spinners well into the morning session. >Alastair Cook took his team to lunch comfortably; his opening partner Keaton Jennings looked unperturbed and, in fact, enterprising, at the crease. But soon after the interval, Cook edged Jadeja down the leg side to fall for 49, and Jennings followed his skipper with a skip down the track to the same bowler that led to a mistimed chip and a return catch.

Also read: >Alastair Cook to take time over captaincy decision

As in the first innings, Joe Root's nemesis was the sweep. But this time, he missed the ball completely to be struck on the pads. A not out decision brought in a review from the Indians and the decision was overturned with technology. The in-form Jonny Bairstow, who came in next, chipped a delivery from Ishant Sharma tamely to the leg-side, where Jadeja, who it seemed could not be kept out of action, took a tumbling catch after having run a considerable distance towards the ball.

> Alastair Cook: Ali-Rashid not as good as Ashwin-Jadeja

It was time for England to consolidate after some carelessness. Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes brought some normalcy to the proceedings with a 63-run partnership for the fifth wicket. The two survived some nervy moments early on, with Moeen playing a shaky pull that almost resulted in a catch and Stokes edging to the vacant second-slip region.

Stokes, however, settled down soon to score runs off the spinners without much trouble, and even played some disdainful and nonchalant strokes that only he can conjure. These shots included a slap through mid-wicket off Ashwin, and a drive through mid-off off Amit Mishra.

Jadeja then created further flutters. He first removed Moeen, who stepped down the track to slog him, but could not clear Ashwin at mid-on. He then brought about a leading edge from Stokes, who had attempted to flick him; it was lapped up with glee by Karun Nair at mid-wicket. England was suddenly reduced to 193 for six.

With the tail exposed, other bowlers found a voice again. Mishra took the baton from Jadeja and chipped in with the wicket of Liam Dawson, having him bowled with a googly.

With the second new ball, in the 81st over, Umesh forced Adil Rashid, England’s No. 9 batsman, to edge to — who else? — Jadeja at point. Jos Buttler and Stuart Broad tried to provide some resistance with careful defence, but Jadeja wrapped up the tail after a partnership of 6.5 overs. Broad fell trying to defend; the ball took his glove and ballooned to short leg, and in the same over the victory was completed with the edge of Jake Ball accepted by Nair at forward short-leg. England had lost six wickets for 15 runs to be bowled out for 207.

However, throughout the morning and early afternoon, England’s top-order looked comfortable enough at the crease. Theoretically, India needed only 10 balls to score yet another victory, but the pitch seemed to discourage the probability of those wickets falling within time. England’s openers played the quicks confidently, but Cook showed some jitters against Ashwin's spin. However, Cook and Jennings played some crisp stokes off deliveries discernibly punishable.

After surviving a reprieve from Parthiv off Ashwin in his second over of the day, Cook stroked a serene off-drive off Ishant Sharma from a length not too full. Ishant bowled an accurate, quiet spell of five overs but was not worrying the batsmen. Ashwin, at the other end, troubled Cook with turn and bounce that just about evaded the outside edge a few times. Jennings negotiated the spinners with sweeps and reverse sweeps; some of them went to the boundary.

In the period of play before lunch, no bowler, including Ashwin, looked like creating chances. Cook pulled and swept as well, as the first-wicket partnership crossed 100 soon after lunch. The crowd was patient but unenthusiastic; they were soon woken up by Jadeja in what turned out to be a match-winning spell as India tipped the scales remarkably in the afternoon and early evening.