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Jadeja joins Ashwin as No. 1 Test bowler

India assured of the No. 1 Test spot and $1 million cash prize after 75-run win over Australia in Bengaluru Test

R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have become the first pair of spinners to be jointly top-ranked in the ICC Player Rankings for Test Bowlers as Jadeja has caught up with his spin-partner in the rankings released after the second Test against Australia in Bengaluru.

Jadeja’s seven wickets in the match, which included a crucial six for 63 in the first innings, have helped him move up one rank to reach the top position for the first time in his career. The last time two bowlers shared the top spot was in April 2008 when Dale Steyn and Muttiah Muralidaran were at the top.

Ashwin too, played an important role in the match, which India won by 75 runs to level the four-match series 1-1, so as not to concede the top ranking. His eight wickets took him past spin legend Bishan Bedi’s tally of 266 wickets and made him the fifth-highest wicket-taker for India in Tests with 269 wickets.

India captain Virat Kohli has conceded the second rank to England’s Joe Root after managing only 27 runs in the match and 40 in the series so far. Root is now one point ahead of Kohli at 848 points.

Cheteshwar Pujara’s innings of 17 and 92 have lifted him up five places to sixth rank while Ajinkya Rahane has moved up two places to 15th rank after scoring 17 and 52 in Bangalore. Player of the match Lokesh Rahul has gained 23 places to reach 23rd spot after scores of 90 and 51.
The list of all-rounders saw a change at the top as Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan moved ahead of Ashwin, who has scored only 20 runs in four innings against Australia so far. Ashwin had overtaken Shakib in December 2015.

India’s win in the second Test assures them of the No.1 spot in the ICC Test Team Rankings on the April 1 cut-off date and a cash prize of $1 million.

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Our best Test win till date: Virat

India captain hails team’s character and lauds performances that stood out in the 2nd Test in Bengaluru

Tempers flared, emotions ran high, words were exchanged, stares were shared and in the end, it was an enthralling Test match. India put their ‘A’ game forward and leveled the series 1-1 in a span of four days that saw momentum shifts at regular intervals. Captain Virat Kohli labeled this win as the best and most fulfilling one till date. “Till now, this is the best win definitely. It was quite an emotional game for us, quite draining as well,” he said. “I thought this was the sweetest victory for us. Everyone got along together and we showed the team spirit. If we win together, we also lose together. We stick together as a team. A lot of people were talking about the head of the snake (Nathan Lyon’s jibe at him), but I think the snake did pretty well by itself. I am pretty happy if they keep focussing on the head of the snake, and the snake can sting from a lot of directions.”

Virat was also all praise for his bowlers who he believed bowled their hearts out to keep the Australian first innings total in check. “Our bowlers gave away only 47 runs in the first session of day 2 and picked up two wickets when they could have taken the game away from us. I think that was probably the momentum change that we needed, and throughout the day we didn’t give more than 200 runs, we picked up six wickets.

“Jadeja was outstanding in the first innings along with our fast bowlers. Their spell again was very good, relentless pressure from one end by Umesh and Ishant and then Jadeja picking up those wickets later on. Those are the kind of things you need as a team to change the tide that’s going against you. One thing is that we never stopped trying. We didn’t give in, we didn’t let the opposition totally roll over us, we knew if they didn’t get a big first-innings total it would very difficult for them to chase on day four.”

Many believed that 188 was not a strong enough target to defend. Even the Indian captain for that matter said the team surprised itself to win by a margin of 75 runs. “We saw the first-class stats, and no team chased 120 also in the fourth innings, so we knew, once we get 150-plus, we have a fair chance to go at them and eventually we surprised ourselves by winning by 75 runs. Honestly, I thought it was going to be closer than that.”

Virat was all praise for KL Rahul who scored a gritty 90 in the first innings and a half century in the second. Apart from Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara’s fight in the second innings was a revelation of ‘character’ according to Virat. “I feel that the partnership between Ajinkya and Pujara in a situation where the momentum was against us in the series, was outstanding. In the last two years, it’s one of the top two partnerships, or maybe number one because retrieving the lost momentum and giving the team the lead was a question of character, and they both showed why they are India’s best Test batsmen.”

One of the major talking points in the series so far has been the use of DRS. The Virat Kohli LBW dismissal was much debated and on Day 4 it was no different when there was drama on the field regarding an LBW decision of Steve Smith. Smith was adjudged LBW by the on-field umpire but the Australian captain took longer than usual, glanced at the dressing room for some suggestions until the umpire and Virat had to intervene. It certainly didn’t please the Indian captain.

“I saw that (look at the dressing room) two times happening when I was batting out there. I pointed it out to the umpire as well, that it’s happened twice that I’ve seen their players looking upstairs for confirmation, and that’s why the umpire was at him. We observed that pattern and we told the match referee too, that they’ve been doing that for the last three days and this has to stop. It was getting repetitive, that's why the umpires also knew that it might happen again. I saw it two times when I was batting, I can vouch for that.

“When he turned back, the umpire knew exactly what was going on. There’s a line that you don’t cross on the cricket field, because sledging and playing against the opponents is different, but I don’t want to mention the word, but it falls into that bracket. I would never do something like that on the cricket field. Honestly, if someone makes a mistake while batting, for me personally, that's a brain-fade. But if something is going on for three days, then that's not a brain-fade, as simple as that.”

Anand Subramaniam
Anand Subramaniam

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