‘Rockstar’ Ravindra Jadeja as the great Shane Warne calls him affectionately has come a long way as an international batsman. The boy from Jamnagar first came into the spotlight in the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2008 which India went on to win under Virat Kohli’s captaincy.
Since then, Jadeja has played a combined 267 international matches for India and is a mainstay in all three formats of the game. His batting numbers over the past few years have been exceptional and he looks like the all-rounder India is blessed to have. What makes ‘Sir’ Jadeja so special? Let’s dig a little deeper to find out how his batting has improved leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and his overall journey.
FROM U-19 GLORY TO T20I HEARTBREAK
Jadeja was a part of the Rajasthan team which won the inaugural Indian T20 League in 2008. Back then Jadeja was a proper batsman who was electric on the field and could roll his arm over whenever his captain needed a few overs from him. After a successful stint in domestic cricket and the Indian T20 League, Jadeja was fast-tracked to the Indian national team in 2009 and was picked for their tour to Sri Lanka. He was heavily backed by MS Dhoni who believed in his ability as an all-rounder and he eventually got on the flight to the 2009 T20I World Cup. This came a tad early for him as he was still learning his trade at the international level. His innings against England in the World Cup was heavily criticised and the youngster was blamed for India’s disappointment of crashing out of the World Cup in 2009.
However, Jadeja kept scoring big runs in domestic cricket and in the 2012-13 season, he became the only player in the Ranji Trophy to score three triple centuries, two of which came in the same season. If you look at his First-Class record, you’d understand how much batting talent he is actually blessed with. In 102 First-Class matches, the southpaw averages 47.14 with the bat with 10 centuries to his name. Somehow this batting ability was always subdued in his Test career and more often than not Jadeja has underperformed with the bat in international cricket.
RISE OF THE BOWLER IN HIM
After the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy in England which India went on to lift, Jadeja became a regular starter for the Men in Blue but was known more for his bowling ability than batting. Post the tournament he was on the top of bowling charts in ODIs and was regarded as one of the best fielders going around in international cricket. He became a key member of the Test team as well and forged a formidable bowling partnership with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. During this time, it seemed like Jadeja had lost his confidence with the bat and more often than not he’d try to hit his way out of tough situations. These counter-attacks worked on some occasions, most noteworthy his 68 at Lord’s in 2014. Still, he wasn’t fulfilling his batting ability and best of Jaddu as a batter was yet to come.
COMING OF AGE AS A BATSMAN
After the 2017 Champions Trophy, Jadeja lost his place in the white-ball squad. The trend of having wrist spinners in your team was in vogue and the partnership between Jadeja and Ashwin in limited-overs cricket was deemed not potent enough. This was the turning point in Ravindra Jadeja’s life. He went back to domestic cricket and kept piling on the runs and taking wickets. His Test form with India was magnificent and he managed to achieve his first international ton in 2018 at home against the West Indies.
Soon after, he made a comeback to the ODI team and was picked for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. This move came with its criticism attached, so much so that Sanjay Majrekar called Jadeja a ‘bits and pieces’ player. This didn’t go down with the ‘Royal Raghavan’ and with a point to prove, he almost won India the most crucial match in its recent history, the semi-final of the World Cup against New Zealand. His celebration after getting a half-century went viral and is an iconic image in Indian cricket now.
In the recently concluded Indian T20 League, Jadeja was only one of the few positives that Team Chennai can take from the tournament. He finished the league with an average of 46.40 and a strike rate of 171.85. He also managed to get his first fifty in the tournament in twelve years. If Chennai would’ve taken advantage of Jadeja’s brilliant form as a batsman, they would have surely made it to the playoffs for yet another season.
In limited overs, India is making the best use of Jadeja the all-rounder. He is a designated 10 overs bowler and is turning matches in favour of his country at number seven with the bat. In the last two years, Jadeja has played a cumulative 44 matches in international cricket. His average is 45.63 and is striking at 97.50 in ODIs and 146.37 in T20Is. This is the best he has batted for Team India and he has a great understanding of his game now.
India needs to capitalise on his batting form and he can be a key player in India lifting the Border-Gavaskar trophy in Australia once more and even in the upcoming ICC tournaments. We can say with surety that Ravindra Jadeja has finally come of age as a batsman in international cricket.
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