Ravindra Jadeja's incredible catch gives India early edge over Australia in second Test | India cricket team

A remarkable catch by Ravindra Jadeja put India on the front foot after the first session in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. Australia’s...

A remarkable catch by Ravindra Jadeja put India on the front foot after the first session in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Australia’s Matthew Wade appeared comfortable at the crease on day one until the 13th over, when he inexplicably skied a Ravichandran Ashwin delivery towards the MCG stands that had both Jadeja and Test debutant Shubman Gill on the move.

Jadeja, having tracked some 40m and and hustled to position himself under the ball, called the catch. And even as Gill continued coming, careered into his teammate and almost tripped him up, Jadeja stayed on his feet and held his nerve to take a clean catch and Wade’s wicket for 30.

The Guardian’s Geoff Lemon, describing the action live, said, “That might be the best catch I’ve ever seen.” Reaction on social media did not disagree.

The fit-again allrounder’s selection in place of captain and top-order batsman Virat Kohli, who returned home after the first Test on paternity leave, came as a surprise to some.

While he will not contribute Kohli’s volume of runs, he brings an extra spin option to India’s bowling attack.

He has also carved himself a reputation as a pair of safe hands. Earlier this month the 32-year-old produced an excellent diving catch to remove Cameron Green during the third one-day international in Canberra.

At lunch on Saturday, India had launched a spirited comeback following their Adelaide Oval disaster to leave Australia reeling at 65-3. Openers Joe Burns and Wade, as well as star batsman Steve Smith, were all dismissed after Australia captain Tim Paine won the toss and batted first.

The MCG pitch has been infamously flat in recent years, but India’s bowlers extracted seam and spin in a lively first session. Indian quick Jasprit Bumrah (1-7) cleaned up Burns in the fourth over, before Ravi Ashwin (2-17) claimed Wade and the prized scalp of Smith.

The stage was set for another Smith masterpiece when he entered the crease at 35-2, but the world’s No 1 Test-ranked batsman was quickly sent packing. Smith was caught at leg-slip off a turning Ashwin delivery without scoring – the 31-year-old’s first Test duck since 2016.

It was not the only nought of the morning, with Burns’s 10-ball stay again putting him under pressure to keep his Test place. Bumrah had Burns nicking to recalled wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant – the Queenslander now averaging just 24.2 from his last nine Test innings since making 97 against Pakistan in November 2019.

With star opener David Warner expected to be fit for the next Test, Burns, who hit an unbeaten 51 at the Adelaide Oval, needs another big second innings score to save his international career.

No 3 Marnus Labuschagne (26), who successfully challenged an LBW decision in the final over before lunch, and Travis Head (4) were Australia’s not out batsmen at the break.

Australia took an unchanged XI into the second Test of the Border-Gavaskar trophy after securing a thumping eight-wicket victory in the opening match where India crumbled for a record-low 36.

India made four changes, headlined by the recall of the explosive Pant, as they aim to level the series at a venue where they comfortably won in 2018. The uncapped Gill came in for Prithvi Shaw while Jadeja was included along with pace debutant Mohammed Siraj.

A crowd of up to 30,000 was at the MCG, with fans returning for the first time since the women’s Twenty20 World Cup final in March.

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Newsrust: Ravindra Jadeja's incredible catch gives India early edge over Australia in second Test | India cricket team
Ravindra Jadeja's incredible catch gives India early edge over Australia in second Test | India cricket team
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