You can hate him, troll him, bash him, mock him or love him! But the one thing that you definitely cannot do is ignore him! Yes, we are talking about none other than the most trolled cricketer of this globe – Ravindra Jadeja, or as people would refer to him, Sir Ravindra Jadeja!
Jadeja is someone who has the mentality of a street fighter and an ancient warrior. Setbacks do not deter his spirit and soul. Rather, he takes those setbacks as opportunities to make an even better impression once he gets an opening. Easier said than done, the last few months have been extremely tricky for the Saurashtra all-rounder. His selection in the ICC World Cup 2015 squad raised a lot of eyebrows as he was rushed after a brief shoulder injury.
The injury was clearly visible as Jadeja looked pale in the World Cup with the ball. His shoulder, which was his primary strength, looked weak, and thereby his deliveries lost all the venom. The batsmen were enjoying milking the runs on his bowling. Against Australia in the semi-final, he went wicketless and Steve Smith enjoyed his offerings. Things only went downhill for him in the Bangladesh tour, where he could manage just one wicket in the two games. He was dropped for the third ODI, and the selectors even ignored him for the Zimbabwe tour and the Sri Lanka tests. His replacements, Axar Patel and Harbhajan Singh did well in Zimbabwe. To compound his woes, the selectors even ignored him for the T20I series against South Africa and for the first three ODI’s.
Determined to once again regain his rightful place in the test squad, Jadeja began his journey from the Ranji Trophy. As any other fairy tale, Jadeja struck gold within the first couple of games. In the first game against Tripura, Jadeja scored 91 runs with the bat and then in the two innings took two fifers. 11 wickets and 91 runs in the very first game of the Ranji Trophy! To improve on that, in the second game, Jadeja took a 6-fer and scored a rapid half century. With such astounding performances, Jadeja is making his selection unquestionable.
It is rightly believed that Ravindra Jadeja is someone who can do justice to the number 7 slot in test matches, atleast in the subcontinent. Jadeja has played 5 test matches at home and has 27 wickets at an average of 19.85. As a matter of fact, in the last game he played at home, he was the Man of the Match against Australia. Jadeja will definitely relish the prospect of playing in the subcontinent provided he is 100% match fit. On the dry and dusty pitches with uneven bounce, he can simply rip through the acclaimed South African batting line up. In India, Jadeja can play an idle second fiddle to R. Ashwin along with Amit Mishra.
To counter the threat possessed by South Africa, Virat Kohli will have to employ spin at all costs. And judging Kohli, he is bound to get rank turners, which can bamboozle the South African batsmen. On such lethal wickets, Jadeja can run through the lower middle order of South Africa. To go along with that, he can also control the run flow, and bowl an extremely tight line, thus maintaining the pressure created by R. Ashwin.
Jadeja has already done that and that too in Durban, which isn’t an ideal pitch for spinners. But his overall overseas record isn’t worth applauding as he struggled in New Zealand and England. But now for at least a couple of years, India won’t tour and will play at home. It’s this opportunity which Jadeja can ideally exploit and improve his overall record as a cricketer. There is no question over his ability as he has demolished Australia in early 2013 with his guile.
The cricketing pundits often say that for a cricketer the first step should be performing well in the domestic first class circuit. Jadeja has already done that as he has set the Ranji Trophy on fire. Now it’s the question of sustaining that form before the date of the selection arrives. If he manages to continue with such outstanding performances, then he might well be ready to take South Africa head on.
Nevertheless, Jadeja will have to take care of a few things. He will have to perform on the very first chance given. The presence of replacements in the form of Axar Patel, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha linger around. A failure in his comeback match could mean that Jadeja might well have to sit out for an even longer time as there are many candidates vying for a spot. To ensure his success, he will also have to work out on his batting. Batting against the Proteas won’t be easy, but he will have to be prepared to score a few priceless runs for India lower down the order.
With the domestic form in his favour, Jadeja can only expect for a recall and then transform that domestic form into improvised international performances.