Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is currently himself sweating it out in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy for Saurashtra despite the fact that he has to be on the South African tour. Despite having a side strain his batting was up to the mark as he played a key role in his team’s march into the final. Against Andhra, in a crunch semi-final game at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Jadeja took Saurashtra out of trouble after a top-order collapse, with an aggressive 51-ball 56.
Jadeja’s 113-run partnership for the 5th wicket with Arpit Vasavada took the Cheteshwar Pujara-led side to 255, which proved to be a match-winning tally. The fifty had come on the back of a phenomenal 116-ball 113 Jadeja had stroked in a league fixture against Jharkhand last week, which helped Saurashtra in chasing down an unlikely target of 330.
The southpaw has been going through an impressive run with the bat in this tournament does not come as a surprise. He had finished 2017 as the fifth highest wicket-taker in Tests, with 54 scalps from 10 games. His low arm trajectory and ability to finish over quickly, further validated that on rough, he was not the only handful, but also deadly. Talking about the same, Saurashtra coach, Sitanshu Kotak said, “He is the best spinner on Indian tracks.”
However, Jadeja hasn’t been great with his luck in order to make a comeback in the national squad. To make matters worse, a side strain would prevent him from bowling and despite that he wanted to be in the thick of the action. When the opportunity presented itself in Vijay Hazare, he made it count with his batting.
The Saurashtra team management, too, used his services smartly, by promoting their premier all-rounder up the order. Kota elaborated, “Jadeja has been advised not to bowl for three weeks by the team physio due to a side strain. Despite this, he has shown excellent commitment. In a league game against Jharkhand, he batted through pain to score a century and win the match for us. His injury was a concern for us, but he has responded to us pretty well. He wanted to play all the games, but we were constantly monitoring him and made sure he did not aggravate his injury.”
Despite a fairly profitable run with the bat in domestic cricket, his numbers are pretty demeaning in international cricket. In 35 Tests, he averages just under 30, with no three-figure mark to his name. In ODIs and T20s too, his numbers have been underwhelming, and he has failed on a consistent basis.
The primary reason for the below-par numbers is that he generally bats down the order. Jadeja could make an impact with the bat for his IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings if he can continue the stellar batting form he has showcased in Vijay Hazare. In fact, MS Dhoni, his CSK skipper, had hinted that the all-rounder would get more opportunities with the bat in the upcoming edition. Dhoni’s words might have spurred Jadeja to take his batting more seriously. He could use his batting as the weapon to put him back in the reckoning in both ODIs and T20s — formats where wrist spinners Yadav and Chahal have stolen a march over him and Ravichandran Ashwin in recent times with their match-winning performances.
This further suggests how much Ashwin and Jadeja had fallen off the radar with respect to the shorter formats. The two will get their chance to dazzle when the IPL begins in April.
Saurashtra: 255 in 49.1 overs (R Jadeja 56 off 51 balls, A Vasavada 58 off 59, C Pujara 17 off 53); Andhra: 196 in 45.3 overs (B Sumath 42, Dharmendra Jadeja 4/40).