India left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja celebrating an Australian wicket. (BCCI)
New Delhi: Cricket's long and rich history includes a memorable list - for the man holding the ball, at least - of bowlers and their bunnies. Think of the word bunny and images of Shane Warne tormenting Daryll Cullinan, Glenn McGrath celebrating the wicket of Michael Atherton and Ricky Ponting standing dumbfounded at a leaping Harbhajan Singh come to mind. Now, there is another fast-growing bowler-bunny combination making headlines in Test cricket - that of Australian captain Michael Clarke and his latest tormentor, Indian left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.
Clarke, a superb player of spin and the best batsman in the side, has been dismissed four times out of five in the series to Jadeja. The numbers read: 167 balls faced, 66 runs scored, four times dismissed for an average 16.50. Pretty ordinary for an excellent batsman who averaged 52.97 coming into the third Test and who dominated all bowling attacks in 2012.
In the first innings of the Chennai Test, Clarke (130) chipped Jadeja to long-off an hour before lunch on day two. In the first innings in Hyderabad, he missed a sweep at Jadeja on 91 and was bowled. Later in that match, Jadeja produced a terrific delivery, with plenty of drift and a hint of turn, to beat Clarke's forward prod. The ball cannoned into the off stump and left Clarke looking stunned.
The latest dismissal to Jadeja came on the second afternoon in Mohali. Clarke promoted himself to No. 3 but lasted just one ball; looking to dominate immediately, he was beaten in flight and Dhoni was swift to react. In consecutive deliveries, Jadeja had removed David Warner and Clarke.
But Jadeja chose to be a bit modest in his reaction when asked if he has had the Australian captain's number.
"Bunny...I don't know. It's just that whenever I have the ball, he is there facing me," Jadeja said. "It's a very important wicket because if you allow him to settle down, he can make big scores. So I am very thrilled," he added while speaking after day two in Mohali.
If India go on to clinch the Border-Gavaskar Trophy - and all signs are pointing at that with Australia 273 for 7 at stumps on day two - then Jadeja's utter dominance of Clarke will be a major factor. And he can rightfully claim to have made the Australian captain his bunny.
Bowlers to have dismissed Michael Clarke the most
Ishant Sharma - 14 Tests, seven dismissals
Dale Steyn - 10 Tests, seven dismissals
James Anderson - 13 Tests, six dismissals
Steve Harmison - 13 Tests, six dismissals
Anil Kumble - 10 Tests, six dismissals
Zaheer Khan - 14 Tests, five dismissals
Harbhajan Singh - 13 Tests, four dismissals
Daniel Vettori - 11 Tests, four dismissals
Matthew Hoggard - Nine Tests, four dismissals
Paul Harris - Six Tests, four dismissals
Mohammad Asif - Six Tests, four dismissals
Rangana Herath - Five Tests, four dismissals
Ravindra Jadeja - Three Tests, four dismissals