Ravindra Jadeja made quite a comeback on day one of the first Test against Australia in Nagpur on Thursday (February 9). The left-arm spinner claimed his 11th five-wicket haul in Test cricket and played a major role in helping India dismantle Australia for 177.
The spin-bowling all-rounder, who was playing his first international game since September 2022 due to a long-standing knee injury, scalped 5/47 in 22 overs. The 34-year-old said he worked a lot on his bowling at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, and just wanted to keep things simple by targeting the stumps.
"There was no bounce on the wicket, I was targeting the stump-to-stump line. The odd ball was spinning and the odd ball was going straight. Being a left-arm spinner, if you get batsmen out caught behind or stumped, you always give credit to the ball," Jadeja said after the first day's play.
"In Test match cricket, whatever wicket you take, you are happy with that. I was working hard on my bowling when I was in Bangalore at the NCA. I was bowling 10-12 hours everyday and that helped me a lot. I was working on my rhythm because I knew that I have to play a Test match and I have to bowl long spells.
"Very happy with the way I was bowling. I was enjoying my bowling. Playing Test cricket after 5 months, it's tough. I was prepared for it and I was working hard on my fitness as well as on my skills at NCA. I played a first-class game (Ranji) after a long time and I bowled almost 42 overs. It gave me a lot of confidence to come here and play a Test match.”
There was plenty of talk about the surface prior to the first Test, with everyone expecting it to turn big from day one, but it didn’t. "This wasn't a rank-turner. Compared to other pitches, it was slow and had low bounce. I felt defending wasn't very difficult today but as the game progresses, it (defending) will become increasingly difficult. But that's the nature of Test cricket,” said Jadeja.
Australian openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja were dismissed by seamers inside three overs but that’s when Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith joined hands and put on 82 runs for the third wicket. It looked like Australia would get a good first-innings total but that’s when Jadeja dismissed Labuschagne and Matt Renshaw in the space of two deliveries and brought India back in the game.
"I used the crease as not every delivery was turning. And, as I said, the bounce was low, so trying (I tried) to create doubts in the minds of the batters," said Jadeja, who later got rid of Smith, Todd Murphy and Peter Handscomb to complete his five-wicket haul.
"I was going wide off the crease and coming close to the stumps and some deliveries if they stepped out and it turned, there would always be a chance. Luckily, he (Labuschagne) stepped out (and) that one (delivery) turned after pitching. And for (Steve) Smith, the ball went straight from that same spot from where I delivered the earlier (Marnus) delivery."