As bowlers are wont to, Ravindra Jadeja almost willed Rohit Sharma to seek the review. The difference this time was that Sharma, the lone slip, didn’t need much convincing. The stump microphone caught the India skipper saying in Hindi that a review was worth it as he was the last recognised South Africa batter. The ‘he’ in question was Heinrich Klassen and at 40/3 inside the 13th over, the risk was sure worth taking.
On a night India’s bowlers again delivered as a unit – even though it beggars belief that Jasprit Bumrah didn’t get a wicket and that by the time Kuldeep Yadav, who cleaned up the tail, was introduced, South Africa were 64/6 – Sharma was vindicated. Jadeja’s delivery had pitched on leg and Klassen had to go after failing to sweep. Next over, Mohammed Shami and KL Rahul were quicker to the draw in calling for DRS and again Sharma went with the flow.
Again, India were right which meant that hit on the back leg by Shami, Rassie van der Dussen had to go. At 40/5 after 40/4, South Africa’s chase of India’s score of 326/5 was over even before it began. So imperious and relentless was the bowling in this 243-run win that Sharma could even have yielded to the chant of ‘Kohli ko bowling do’ eddying around Eden.
Shami calls Eden home since 2010 and, like he has been in this World Cup after warming the bench for four games, was on song. He had got Aiden Markram earlier with one that had arrowed in on off-stump and seamed away just so. Markram, seventh on the run-scorer’s list and who had hit a rapid-fire century against Sri Lanka, edged and Rahul took an excellent catch diving in front. With a match haul of 2/18 taking him to 16 wickets, Shami is now fourth on the wicket-taker’s list.
Keshav Maharaj had shown the wicket would aid spinners. Maharaj’s deliveries don’t rush at batters like Jadeja’s do and this one didn’t at Shubman Gill. But it pitched on middle and leg, spun away to beat the bat face and disturb the furniture. So, even though Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj had suffocated South Africa and the latter had accounted for Quinton de Kock, it fit that Sharma introduced Jadeja from the High Court End in the ninth over.
Inside three balls, Jadeja extended Temba Bavuma’s lean run in the World Cup. The South Africa skipper wasn’t sure whether to meet the ball or stay in the crease and was bowled by one that angled in fast and spun away. The one that got David Miller didn’t turn and the ball that did Maharaj in did. After playing 20 dots, Kagiso Rabada ran out of patience and smacked one straight back at the bowler to give Jadeja his fifer, the first India spinner to do that in this campaign.
Accurate, bowling at the stumps and at pace and keeping batters guessing which one will turn and which won’t, Jadeja was too hot to handle even for a team that was second in the standings.
“I think the wicket was more difficult when we batted. There was turn and no bounce,” said Jadeja after the match. When pacers give the team a good start, it helps the spinners, gives them the freedom to try their variations, he said. India’s decision to bat first was also a way of challenging themselves ahead of the knockouts, he said.
To Jadeja’s 5/33, add the 15-ball 29 that included a six and two fours off Marco Jansen in the last over and his fielding and Jadeja again showed why Shane Warne called him a rockstar. A great all-round package, India coach Rahul Dravid had said after pointing out how difficult it is for a No. 7 batter to contribute consistently given that he is not always assured of getting a knock.
“The all-rounder’s role is to get 30-40 runs when it is tough and break a difficult partnership. That’s what I try to do. And with my fielding, well, I am never relaxed about it,” said Jadeja.
Jadeja, Dravid had accepted on Saturday, has gone a little under the radar in this World Cup. Not on Sunday though.