South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 3rd day December 28, 2013

Jadeja flashes his overseas spin credentials

Overseas success has been rare for Indian spinners of late, but Ravindra Jadeja enjoyed a good helping in Durban on day three courtesy his steadfast accuracy and occasional turn

'Look at Jadeja as a pure spinner' - Manjrekar

That Ravindra Jadeja has scored three triple-centuries in the Ranji Trophy sometimes does him a disservice, at least in the eyes of those who look from the outside. People tend to look at him as an allrounder, but when they see him out of depth against quality Test bowling they ridicule him. You look at him as a pure spinner, though, and you see value. He has surprised many with how well he has come back after being dropped from the international side in 2010, but not himself, MS Dhoni, Duncan Fletcher and the selectors who have backed him.

Jadeja has come back a stronger man, and even though he doesn't have too many niceties of flight and dip, he puts a lot of body into his deliveries. He is accurate, and can keep bowling long spells. Not every ball of his turns, which adds to the batsmen's troubles. He is now the first India spinner to have taken four wickets in an innings outside India since July 2011. If he takes one of the five remaining South African wickets, this will be the first away five-for by an India spinner since the first week of 2011. This is not to say R Ashwin would have done worse than him - there is no telling with the assistance available in Durban - but the man picked for the job has done it for India.

After having collapsed for 334 on the second day and having conceded 82 for 0 before stumps, India badly needed to slow the scoring down. Their first target would have been to delay South Africa's charge as much as possible. Not only would that reduce the chances of a loss here - also keeping the weather in mind - it would possibly bring a fourth innings into play. The only way to delay the charge on these fast-scoring grounds is to take wickets. Jadeja took four of the five with his unwavering accuracy, his action on the ball and the occasional turn that cast doubts in batsmen's minds. It is largely thanks to his bowling - he bowled 32 overs in a shortened day - that South Africa haven't yet gone past India's total and looked for quick runs.

Jadeja also had a point to prove. "This is a huge achievement for me," he said. "People always say - I have heard a lot - that I have played all my Tests in India, and that I can turn the ball only in India. It was my dream to come here and take a five-for. Luckily, I have taken four today. Tomorrow I will try to take the fifth as soon as possible so that everyone knows I can turn the ball outside India too."

Alviro Petersen was one of the four that fell to Jadeja. He scored 62 before he did so and faced 40 balls from Jadeja, so is in a good position to narrate what works for him. "It was obviously difficult to play him because there aren't many scoring areas," Petersen said. "The lines he bowls, the lengths he bowls are obviously good. With the ball turning you [the batsman] have to take out certain shots. It was quite difficult but, at the same time, I thought in the position that we are in we have played well. We would have liked to see him take fewer wickets and make the seamers bowl more, but I thought he took the pressure off their bowlers quite nicely."

Jadeja said he had already found some footmarks when bowling to left-hand batsmen. And he is quite good hitting a spot repeatedly. Against right-hand batsmen he said all he wanted to do was to be at them. "I was just trying to bowl in the right areas," Jadeja said. "For the right-hand batsman, off stump, just outside. I was just trying to bowl in good areas because the odd ball was turning. I was just thinking not to give them room, and bowl stump to stump."

Petersen said that Jadeja's regular strikes meant South Africa couldn't push for the advantage just yet, not least because they might have to bat last against him. "I think, you know, sometimes when you try to push the game you get yourselves into trouble," Petersen said. "The first priority for us was to get ourselves a couple of partnerships, which we have done. You can always - in the latter stages of your team's innings - push on, so I don't think we have reached that stage yet. It's a case of first of all trying to get to their total and then take it from there. I think we have played nicely."

It was a slightly strange end to the day where India didn't take the new ball - doing that might have pushed them off the field earlier than they eventually did go off, given the deteriorating light. South Africa, on the other hand, who have more running to do with this being a home series, didn't go after the spinners, not planning too much for the weather, the forecasts of which are not promising. A significant part of it, though, was down to the doubts Jadeja created.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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  • ESPN on December 29, 2013, 15:36 GMT

    nice bowling by jadu....

  • Nanda Kumar on December 29, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    @kingcobra. You are so right in that Rohit Sharma will never be dropped inspite of the rubbish that he plays in tests. Yes he got 2 centuries but against that kind of WIi bowling on Indian wickets you would fancy Sir Geoffery's mom hitting a century. More than the MI owner, Rohit has a fairy God mother in a certain Ravi Sastri who will keep telling you of the great talent that Rohit is and if there is a boundary he will keep going on about the style and the class. Sadly we have to live with Rohit till the fourth test in England. I have no confidence that he will score anything of significance but given that there are only 2 tests in NZ he will play in both. The next series is in England and he will be given atleast 2 tests to fail before he is replace. So let us all chill and watch him for another 10 innings with the confidence that once we are 3 down we are into the tail..

  • Hanuma on December 29, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    Wisdom of hindsight: India was a bowler short in Jo'burg and paid the price in terms of snatching a draw from the jaws of victory. It is a bowler short here in Kingsmead again and could not stop SA from getting off the hook. With possibly the world's slowest and least effective pace bowling attack, India must play five bowlers in overseas conditions. They should have dropped a specialist batsman and played both Ashwin and Jadeja, who can both,fortunately, bat with some skill. Without a fifth bowler the possibility of an Indian win overseas can be ruled out at the time of toss itself. Unless the opposite team plays very very poorly or some 'glorious uncertainties' intervene.

  • Yogesh on December 29, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    When Ashwin failed to take wickets in Johannesburg , please keep in mind that Tahir and Duminy took 4 wickets in that match too .. So why only Ashwin failed ? This can't be just bad luck or co-incidence.

  • Rashmi on December 29, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    Farewell Zaheer Khan... Without you the series win in England was not possible... We will always remember you.

  • Rashmi on December 29, 2013, 7:20 GMT

    @ Fleming Ambrose: Sorry Buddy, It is Amit Mishra who take the honors of the best spinner in India... Though he is never selected ahead of others although he has fared much better than others when all are tested on same pitches...Taking the Ranji series and IPL into account.

  • Arulprakash on December 29, 2013, 7:14 GMT

    Rohit Sharma plays for Mumbai Indians and who's owner owns most of the media outlets so nothing wrong will be written about him. He is useless in all forms of the game better replace him with Ashwin in NewZealand. Well done to Jadeja, was really pleased for him.

  • Ram on December 29, 2013, 7:00 GMT

    I think Jadeja is a good addition to the team. He has the straight one and the ball which leaves the right hand batsmen. He pretty much bowls wicket-to-wicket and his fielding is always excellent. He is a decent batsmen, but need to work on his defense if he wants to be successful in overseas. On the other hand Ashwin bowls like in ODI and tries too many variations. He may have a better defense than Jadeja, but his primary role is to take wickets.

  • Dummy4 on December 29, 2013, 6:26 GMT

    Jadega, Ashwin and Ohja are probably the best spinners India have today. It is a good crop of spinners too. The only comfort that Jadega and Ashwin provide over Ohja is the fact that he is not good with the bat as the other two. We will have to remember the fact that the Indian openers are still in the early years and have not settled down to be the prolific pair that you can expect to put in a consistent opening partnership. Considering the fact the Dhoni loses almost all of the toss, he invariably ends up batting last in a test match(a flat first day pitch) or first (in a green seaming track). Dhoni's policy has always been to load his side with players who can contribute with the bat. It might seem a desperate move but on a wider note, it is a stratergy tha thas been planned over. Yes you might argue the fact that both Jadega and Ashwin play for the same team as Dhoni does in IPL. But we would be cynics to keep picking up on everything.

  • Dummy4 on December 29, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    On this wicket Umesh Yadav with his pace n reverse swing wd have been handing...looking at Zaheer...i think time is up now....Not picking Ashok Dina for this series is also a mistake

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