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.
Howwwwww has Jadeja held onto that 😳😳😳
— Jimmy Neesham (@JimmyNeesh) December 26, 2020
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.
India went to stumps at 36-1 on Saturday as the tourists endured 50 minutes of supreme fast bowling on the most lively MCG pitch for years.
Mitchell Starc trapped Mayank Agarwal lbw for a duck to end the first over, evoking memories of India’s record collapse in Adelaide last week.
Pat Cummins should have had opener Gill out in slips in the fifth over, but Marnus Labuschagne put down a fast-moving chance. Gill (28 not out) made the most of the let-off, showing poise beyond his 21 years to survive until the close of play alongside Cheteshwar Pujara (7 no).
Despite the late drama, India claimed the day-one spoils as they bounced back strongly with a new-look line-up following their first-Test disaster, rolling the hosts for 195.
Australia took an unchanged XI into the second Test of the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
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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