Ravindra Jadeja on Thursday picked up seven wickets for Saurashtra against Tamil Nadu in a Ranji trophy match. He made a comeback after injury in style and showed that he was back to full fitness ahead of the all-important Test series against Australia beginning in February.
In 17.1 overs, Jadeja finished with superb figures of 7 for 53 to bring Saurashtra back into contention for a win. With the Test series against Australia looming, Jadeja's impressive comeback from injury would be a welcome sign for the team management.
The visiting team was dismissed for 192 in response to TN's first innings score of 324, conceding a lead of 132 runs. However, Jadeja's heroics helped Saurashtra bundle out the home team for 133 in just 36.1 overs in the second innings.
Needing 266 runs for an outright win, the former Ranji champions lost the wicket of opening batter Jay Gohil (0) to end the day at 4 for 1.
Resuming at the overnight 92 for 3, Saurashtra must have pinned hopes on Jadeja coming up with a substantial knock to swell the score. However, the stand-in captain could make only 15 (23 balls, 3 fours) before B Aparajith trapped in front of the wicket.
Young left-arm spinner S Ajith Ram and fellow spinner M Siddharth did well for TN, picking up three wickets each to engineer a collapse. From 101 for 3, Saurashtra were bowled out for 192 in 79.4 overs with Chirag Jani (49) being the top-scorer.
In the second innings, Tamil Nadu came up against an inspired Ravindra Jadeja as the crafty spinner made great use of the conditions with the ball staying low to wreak havoc.
Along with fellow spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (3/64), the Saurashtra skipper kept TN batters on the tenterhooks.
The home team slumped to 4 for 2 with Dharmendrasinh Jadeja removing opening batter N Jagadeesan for a duck and the power-hitting M Shahrukh Khan (2).
Once Jadeja got into the act by bowling Indrajith (28, 53 balls, 2 fours), it was Saurashtra all the way. The ace all-rounder returning to competitive cricket after having last played for the country in August 2022, posed all sorts of problems for the TN batters.
A relentless Jadeja got TN captain Pradosh Ranjan Paul, the in-form player for 8, and then Vijay Shankar, who has scored three tons this season. The lower order simply caved in as the team capitulated from 105 for 6 to 133 all out in the space of five overs.
India is set to play a four-match Test series against Australia beginning on February 9. The Test series will be important with the WTC final point of view for both teams.