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After all, no Indian left-arm spinner had ever taken a six-wicket haul away from home in a one-dayer. Jadeja was now on the brink. In his previous nine overs, Jadeja had accomplished many firsts. When he cleaned up Ravi Rampaul in his eighth over, the 46th of the innings, he had claimed not only his first five-for in ODIs but also India’s first in the Champions Trophy. Also read: Open and shut case
The previous best figures for India in the tournament, believe it or not, were 4/38 by Sachin Tendulkar, back in 1998 against the Australians. Also one from Ripley’s archives, no Indian spinner had ever taken a five-for in an ODI in England. Not Anil Kumble, not Harbhajan Singh. Jadeja was now looking for his sixth. Also read: India vs West Indies, Stats pack
On strike was Darren Sammy, the second St Lucian on the day to take a liking to India’s bowling. The former West Indies skipper, who had seen the ODI captaincy taken away from him, had been left out of the opening game against Pakistan and was playing this match only due to Denesh Ramdin’s ban, had clobbered Ishant Sharma for 21 in the previous over, with two sixes, two fours and a single to retain strike. Jadeja stepped in and dropped it gently outside Sammy’s off stump. Sammy swung with ferocity and missed. In pics: Dhawan, Jadeja anchor India into semis
Last over bash
Jadeja smiled under his bushy mustache. That’s for staining my figures by scoring a boundary in my previous over, he must have thought. Before that, the left-arm spinner hadn’t conceded a boundary in the entire match. After eight overs, his figures were 5/15. After nine, 5/22. Could he increase the wicket column too by making Sammy his sixth scalp? Jadeja rolled in to find out. Smack came the answer, ringing past his ears for four. The stain was going to turn into a smudge.
Thanks to three hits to the boundary ropes over the next five balls, one of them a towering six over covers, Jadeja finished with what he would consider fractured figures of 5/36. Sammy had 56 not out and the West Indies 233. But between those hits, Jadeja had had a couple of chance to grab his sixth.
One misconnected hit of Sammy’s fell just short of Suresh Raina at short third man. The other chance, off the final ball of the innings, was a straight hit that clipped his fingers en route to the boundary. Jadeja’s expression, as he walked back to the dressing room, now resembled the default face of the man he first dismissed on Tuesday, Johnson Charles.
Grim and stony, the opener from St Lucia had been rather mean on the Indian bowlers as he resurrected the West Indies innings after Chris Gayle’s fall. Either side of Jadeja’s first over, a maiden in the 18th, Charles had walloped sixes off Virat Kohli in the 17th and Ravichandran Ashwin in the 19th. Now, in the 20th, he would face Jadeja for the first time.
It wasn’t so easy to get him away. The first ball was nudged to safety into the leg side. The next, a sweep, was collected at square leg. When Jadeja bowled the next one flatter and fuller, Charles was already on his back foot, looking to wallop across the line. He was trapped in front of middle, and Jadeja showed him the way to the hut with a kiss. For a spinner who doesn’t turn or drift the ball much, Jadeja’s bowling is seemingly conditions-proof. For his first four overs, it looked like he could do no wrong even on this wet and juicy Oval surface. His first was a maiden, his second got rid of the destructive Charles and his third ended Marlon Samuels’ innings before it could even begin. Samuels had made the mistake of playing with bat tucked behind pad. Jadeja’s delivery hit both. Umpire Aleem Dar thought it was bat first; the third umpire, upon referral, confirmed it had been pad first. Jadeja now had two.
Two became three in his fourth when Ramnaresh Sarwan decided to run Jadeja’s leg side line fine. A faint edge was pouched by a shuffling Dhoni. Jadeja was now the second-highest wicket-taker in this Champions Trophy. Three in this game, two in the previous one against South Africa. With big top- and middle-order wickets, it wasn’t going to be too hard for Jadeja to clean up the tail. Sunil Narine was easily dismissed in his seventh, caught at cover by Dinesh Karthik, and Rampaul was bowled in his eighth, a wicket maiden. At that point, his figures were 8-2-15-5. Even Sammy’s flailing blade could only spoil them so much.