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Ravindra Jadeja - The Test All-rounder India Were Seeking Has Arrived

By: Feroz Khan

Last Updated: March 07, 2022, 10:32 IST

Ravindra Jadeja is in the form of his life. (AP Photo)

Ravindra Jadeja is in the form of his life. (AP Photo)

Ravindra Jadeja is the quintessential hardworking individual, ever bent on improvement while proving why he matters.

The Indian team continues to obsess over its never-ending search for a seam-bowling allrounder who will legitimately lay claim as the successor to the great Kapil Dev. Numerous claimants have been unearthed and discarded over the years but the wait continues.

While the recruitment process goes on uninterrupted, Ravindra Jadeja has steadily built himself a resume that would be the envy of any allrounder. He’s not your seam-bowling allrounder though. He bowls left-arm spin. He’s not your strapping fast bowler loaded with venomous pace akin to Ian Botham or Imran Khan. There is venom though but it’s that of a spider who quietly spins a complicated but beautiful web and then waits for his prey to be trapped.

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He’s also not your one-trick pony with the bat either. He has the capability to pulverize attacks into submission from the word go but can also wear them down before well, pulverizing them when they are at their lowest ebb.

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But the 33-year-old has had to work long and hard to become the ‘Rockstar’ the world calls him so often now. For his hasn’t been a meteoric rise. It’s been anything but that.

Jadeja is a battle-hardened veteran. From the very early stage of his international career, the Saurashtra-born experienced first-hand how quickly and easily fortunes change. From arriving at the international stage with a half-century to copping criticism for scoring at a slow-pace leading up to an all-round show at The Oval where he single-handedly helped India recover from 58/5 to a match-winning total. He saw it all.

Jadeja has aimed for the sky, landed among the stars and in between saw his launch encounter a snag or two that would bring him crashing back to earth. All this within a span of two years after India debut.

Those two years became a template of his international career for some time to come before he would change it around and start delivering consistently. The Mohali Test that concluded within three days largely thanks to his individual brilliance is a culmination of the determination and consistent hard work he continues to put in day in, day out.

During his rise, Jadeja first made a mark with his bowling. His unreal accuracy. He would rush through batters in double quick time and before you know it, would have ended up with a bunch of wickets. If the pitch offered some assistance, he would nearly be unplayable. On Indian pitches, when playing Tests, he became undroppable.

However, he wasn’t considered the polished allrounder that Jadeja has become today. There were few instances. Here and there where he would swing his bat around, pull out some stunning shots but eventually perished. He made contributions but not significant enough. In his defense, batting at the wrong end of the middle-order hardly leaves you with enough time and resources to build something of significance.

But then in England, when he struck 86 not out at The Oval Test in 2018, against the duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad in their prime, everything changed.

“My performance, my confidence, everything," Jadeja summed it up brilliantly in an interview of his that innings.

In the following Test, he would score his maiden century. In fact, in the 21 Tests that followed since his Oval exploits. Jadeja has struck eight fifties and two centuries. A majority of them have come when he has batted with the lower order. And this is just a brief summary of how vastly Jadeja the batter has improved.

Jadeja the bowler has been as consistent as ever, Although, in overseas conditions, where India have logically preferred pacers due to the favourable conditions, his bowling figures may not be that impressive but thanks to his batting and the world-class fielding, Jadeja is an automatic choice today, across formats.

So much so that when the next time India tour overseas and they have to pick one spinner in their eleven, Jadeja would easily pip the great Ravichandran Ashwin who is now India’s second-most prolific wicket-taker in Test cricket.

Why you ask?

Ashwin is a dependable batter. Has five centuries to Jadeja’s two. But Jadeja can block and accelerate with equal ease making him a valuable asset for a team as they can be mould his style to suit different match conditions.

As Mohali witnessed, Jadeja, when given time and space, can construct a proper Test innings. The unsolicited jokes about his two triple-centuries in first-class cricket can be safely put to rest.

India’s new Test captain Rohit Sharma has made it clear that he wants more from Jadeja the batter and it’s reflecting in his batting position. Without doubt, this is clearly the most productive phase of Jadeja, the allrounder. And he’s only getting started.

The rise of Jadeja continues.

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first published:March 07, 2022, 10:32 IST
last updated:March 07, 2022, 10:32 IST