Ravindra Jadeja – A Nonpareil Enigma in Indian Cricket – SportsMediaz

As a batsman, Ravindra Jadeja, has on most occasions, been a splendid battler, ready to grit his teeth, put up a stoical display with the ultimate objective of repelling the opponent and provide value to the Indian team, across all formats. His show of poise on the first day of the deferred fifth Test against England at Edgbaston (the first four were played last year that India led 2-1) epitomized a typical Jadeja-knock, a stand-out performance executed for a big impact effect on the opponent which was trying to nose ahead in the first six hours of the Test match.

That he is panther-like in the field at square point and in the deep as a picket near the fence is all well known, a virtue in one aspect of the game that earned him the nickname, “Rockstar” from the late legendary cricketer and motivator, Shane Warne. As a bowler, he has been steady and chipped in with breakthroughs.

Jadeja’s numbers in international cricket makes him sort of an outlier, because he emerges as an appealing idea to the Indian team’s think tank, and in recent times on English soil, he has confined Ravichandran Ashwin — with 442 Test wickets — to the sidelines. England’s most successful off-spinner, Graeme Swann– ahead of Moeen Ali and Jim Laker – reckons that Ashwin has been the game’s consistent spinner in the last ten years and that he ought to be in India playing XI at all times.

A few days ago, the inveterate allrounder,33, Jadeja proved his mettle with the bat, when India was in dire straits at 98 for 5, when the England attack was bowling with its tail up and the hand-stitched Dukes ball still playing tricks in the air and of the seam. More significantly the greatest manipulator of the shining and old cricket ball James Anderson had eaten into India’s vitals and was hunting for more.

Joining another outlier in international cricket these days, Rishabh Pant, the trim-looking all-rounder’s task was cut out, to stay put as long as Pant was carrying out his work with a sense of responsibility and a bit of dash initially. What transpired for near about three and a half hours, after the downfall of Shreyas Iyer, was a monumental undertaking that took India’s first innings – put into bat by England captain Ben Stokes – to 320. Jadeja’s weighty contribution in the 222 recovery stand was 68 precious runs.

Jadeja eschewed playing the short balls, around his rib cage and that was directed to find a feather edge of the wood or glove, and he responded adeptly to deliveries that were well away from his off stump. The left-hander pursued a task without allowing his powers of concentration to diminish. Overnight 83, Jadeja went on to complete his third century in the multi-day and traditional Test cricket. Eventually, he fell to Anderson, who had made his debut at Nagpur in December 2012 short. Jadeja faced 31 balls and then made 12 runs before becoming a leg-before victim.

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Obviously, Pant should get all the accolades for his brilliant 146 that set the tone for a potential India win of the Pataudi Trophy. But Jadeja also played a big part. He made only 160 in seven innings in the last year’s Tests played at Trent Bridge (56 and did not bat), Lord’s (40 and 3), Headingley (4 and 30), The Oval (10 and 17). He made the most of the opportunity that the circumstances offered him at Edgbaston.

As of now, he is the fifth in the batting average for the series behind Rohit Sharma ( ruled out of the fifth Test), Rishabh Pant, K.L.Rahul (not playing the fifth Test), and Cheteshwar Pujara. His strike rate is 47.83, much lower than his career strike rate of 60.08. It’s at No. 7. (835) and No.8 (882) that he has scored most of his 2396 runs (before the Edgbaston Test). It’s 327 at No.6 and 283 at No.8.

So it’s as a lower-order batsman that he has given India the maximum value. Now he has played 18 innings and scored 540 runs in England with one century and one half. His century at Edgbaston and the 222-run stand with Pant displaced the previous high of 204 for the sixth between Rahul and Pant at The Oval in 2018. Jadeja also holds the record for the ninth wicket with Bhuvneshwar Kumar against England in England; it’s 99 at Lord’s in 2014.

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Laid low by an injury, Jadeja returned to action in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Mohali where he scored an unbeaten 175 in nearly five and a half hours. His first Test century (100 not out) was against the West Indies at his home ground in Rajkot in October 2018. Twice he has been dismissed for 90 (versus England at Mohali in 2016) and 91 (versus South Africa at Pune in 2019).

On the basis of his sheer numbers (2000 runs plus and 200 wickets plus) Jadeja stands as the third-best Indian allrounder after Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh, and before Kapil Dev and Anil Kumble. In the context of a left-arm spinner all-rounder, Jadeja (2396 runs and 242 wickets before the Edgbaston Test) is above Vinoo Mankad (2109 runs, 162 wickets) and Ravi Shastri (3830 runs and 151 wickets).

Another statistical highlight is that Jadeja has missed 36 Tests after his debut and India’s winning percentage in these Tesrs is 41.67 and in the 59 he has played (before Edgbaston). India’s winning percentage is a high 64.41. This translates into 1641 runs and 175 wickets for 38 Test match wins. The 39 Test win is on the cards for him. It looks like!

After his debut (December 13, 2012) Jadeja appears as the 23rd best allrounder in the world, the 9th best among spinners, and as a left-arm spinner, he is 18 wickets away from Sri Lankan Rangana Herath’s 259 scalps. In many ways, Jadeja is nonpareil in Indian cricket.

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