Birmingham: Ravindra Jadeja reaffirmed his status as India’s most valuable player across formats with a superbly crafted hundred before skipper Jasprit Bumrah took centre-stage, first smashing a world record and then blowing away England top-order on a rain-hit second day of the rescheduled fifth Test.
At tea, England were struggling at 60 for 3 as a nicely warmed-up Bumrah first castled opener Alex Lees (6) with a delivery that came in with the angle.
Then, in the post-lunch session, he got twice lucky as he removed Zak Crawley (9) and Ollie Pope (10) with the ‘seventh’ delivery of his third and sixth overs respectively.
Both were fuller deliveries which enticed the two right-handers to go for drives as Shubman Gill at third slip and Shreyas Iyer at second slip took regulation catches.
In-form batters Joe Root (19 batting) and Jonny Bairstow (6 batting) were at the crease when rain stopped play for the third time on the second day.
While he once again delivered with the ball but it was Bumrah (31 no, 16 balls) the batter whose fireworks will be remembered by the capacity Edgbaston crowd for the longest time as he smashed 29 runs off a Stuart Broad over.
In all, that over from Broad yielded 35 runs, including six extras.
In his first match at the helm as captain, Bumrah would have never thought that he would pip Brian Lara’s maximum runs (28 runs) in a single Test match over, which remained intact for 18 years.
Bumrah used the bat like a sword and even the edges seemed like “sweet spot” as he hit four boundaries and two sixes off Broad to give the hosts a dose of ‘Bazball’ (Brendon McCullum’s attacking philosophy), which had become a trending lingo in English cricket during the past few weeks.
While Rishabh Pant’s century for the ages and Jadeja’s third Test ton set up the platform, one can’t discount the 93 runs that India added with contributions from number 9, 10 and 11.
In the morning, Jadeja, was cautious as ever before deliberately guiding a Matthew Potts delivery with extra bounce over the slips for a boundary, and the second four was a lucky one that went over Joe Root in the slips.
A punchy drive through cover-point region got him his third century four months after he got the second one in Mohali.
This hundred, though, was of a far better quality, especially if one factors in the conditions, match situation and quality of opposition bowling.
Jadeja hit 13 boundaries, and his four and half hours stay at the wicket gave Pant an opportunity to play his natural attacking game, even as he dourly defended as and when required.
Having already scored 2500 runs in Test cricket alongside taking 242 wickets, Jadeja can safely be termed as the best all-rounder that the Indian team has had since the great Kapil Dev.
A Test batting average of 37 plus is better than many specialists who have played for India over the years.
As far as England’s bowling is concerned, James Anderson (5/60), who is a month shy of turning 40, is still peerless as he got his 32nd five-wicket haul while Broad completed a creditable feat of 550 Test victims.
But 40 extra runs, including 14 no balls, will certainly haunt England in the long run.