Both men used that philosophy to help India get to within one run of Australia’s first-innings of 263 on the second day’s play. Jadeja scored 26, Axar top-scored with 74, and then when it looked like India were on the back foot at the start of the third day, Jadeja ran through the Australian batting order to finish with career-best bowling figures of 7 for 42.
“Sweep and reverse sweep are difficult here, so I didn’t try them (laughs),” Axar – who hit nine fours and three sixes in his innings – told Jadeja in a chat for the BCCI website. “Instead I bring the bat in front of the pad and play the ball on its merit.”
“The last time I batted with you [Jadeja], you had told me that they were trying to aim at my pads, so I was protecting it. My thought was to hit what’s in the slot and respect the good deliveries. That is what I do. This time there was a left-arm spinner [Matthew Kuhnemann] too. ” Jadeja interjected at that point with a good-natured, “and you robbed him for runs.” Axar just laughed and continued. “No I didn’t rob him, but with a left-arm spinner operating instead of an offspinner, you get to play at a delivery turning into you.”
“On this pitch, the mindset [with the bat] was that a good ball can come anytime,” Jadeja said. “However the idea was to believe in the defense and play with the bat in front of the pad. Me and Virat were talking about playing straight as much as possible with less bounce on offer.”
“In India, if the wickets are like this, then it feels good that a spinner’s role and responsibility increases. The way they were batting, they preferred the sweep and reverse sweep, so I wanted to bowl stump to stump. That would mean if they missed and the ball stayed low then it would hit the stumps.”
“I missed a lot of cricket…the World Cup, and many other series, but once I’m back, I want to continue this way in the future, and make team India win with you [Axar] and Ashwin. This is a team game and everyone has contributed in different ways. If this happens, India’s victory march will only continue.”