18-year-old debutant Prithvi Shaw dominated the headlines after India’s epic win against West Indies in the recently concluded first Test in Rajkot. Shaw smashed a stunning 134 on debut to hog the limelight. But another star that defined his magic was Ravindra Jadeja.
We all witnessed the sword gesture by Jadeja after his maiden ton. Perhaps, his promotion ahead of R Ashwin in the batting order may have slipped under the radar. It was a crucial point of the management’s decision. The move made significance and the ploy worked.
The southpaw struck his maiden international century at his beloved home ground, an unbeaten 100 off 132 balls. It was something needed from the player, who is enjoying a spell of substance in recent times. One may call it the 2nd phase of Jadeja’s career. A beginning of something special it may seem.
Jadeja enjoying a mini dream run
The left-handed all-rounder has been enjoying a dream run ever since he made his comeback to Test squad against England in September. Jadeja played 2nd fiddle to Ashwin and only got a chance in the 5th Test after the latter’s injury.
And he was on the money straightaway. 7 wickets and a crucial fighting innings of 86 showed the hunger in Jadeja’s eyes. He sent positive vibrations at the Oval and that transpired his next bit of authority.
Jadeja’s contribution was noticed and he got a rare call-up for the Asia Cup 2018 when Axar Patel got injured. And Jaddu was terrific there too. He showed resistance with the bat and bowled superbly. Plus his fielding was a bonus.
The same player who was criticised for his limited-overs show in 2017, changed it around. Now when you look at both instances recently, injuries to first Ash and then Axar was a blessing in disguise for Jaddu. He cashed on the same. It was a move of an opportunistic.
Jadeja shows immense character and aggression
The platform was set for Jadeja as he showed immense character and aggression to help his side get past 600 runs against the Windies in Rajkot. He hit 5 fours and 5 sixes in the innings that consisted of 132 balls. The player added a crucial 55-run stand with Umesh Yadav for the 9th wicket that aided the side considerably.
His intent needs to be praised here. Also the desire to make things work especially after having been sent above his bowling partner Ashwin. India somewhat now believe in his ability with the bat after seeing the heroics in England and then in UAE.
There is a fight about Jadeja that has come calling. And he wants to show that he belongs here.
Turning point for Jaddu
Jadeja, who warmed the bench in England, must have itched to get a chance. And when it finally arrived, he took it with both hands. That performance at the Oval was the turning point.
Batting for the first time in a lost cause of a lost series, Jadeja played one of the few noteworthy innings by an Indian batsman in the five-Test rubber, getting the team out of the doldrums at 160/6 and taking it to a respectable 292 with a gutsy unbeaten 86 at No. 8.
The Saurashtra all-rounder batted for 204 minutes at The Oval, negotiating 156 balls to take India closer to England’s first-innings total until he ran out of partners.
The knock was a cherry on the cake of his first outing in the series. More than the 7 wickets he picked, it was the runs that reminded everyone of the worth of Jadeja as an all-rounder in the Test side. And that made the team management, to promot him in the batting order in the next game against the Windies.
Jadeja could challenge Ashwin and Pandya now
This was the perfect stage for him to come in and express himself. Jadeja has shown that he can be promoted ahead of R Ashwin in Tests in the batting order and not only this, he could provide a stiff challenge to Ash overseas.
Obviously, Ash is still the first choice and will be the same against Aussies, but Jadeja will give a headache to the management as well. One may wonder that it could be Hardik Pandya that could make way for Jaddu.
India are likely to play three premier pacers. Pandya as the 4th pacer was hardly used by Kohli against England. Also his batting was a bit nervy. Pandya wasn’t consistent and apart from one show with the ball, he was limited.
Now this brings Jaddu in the mix. India might go in with both Ash and Jadeja and attack the Aussies. Also the latter’s assurance with the bat means Pandya could be benched. It will be an interesting time this for India and Jadeja. Seeing him come out at the Adelaide in the 1st Test may not surprise many.
Are things changing?
For the last couple of seasons, the Indian team management has shown more trust in Ashwin the batsman than Jaddu the batsman in the longest format. And credit to Ash for doing an able job. But now things could change.
Jadeja has the momentum and is also fighting for a place in the ODI side. Ash on the other hand is unlikely to make a return to limited-overs as of now.
Therefore this suggests that things are changing for Jadeja and he is determining his role to perfection. Jadeja seems like someone, who is enjoying his cricket at the moment. He has stepped in and showed the side that he can add a lot as an all-rounder.
This is an exciting phase for the player and he is enjoying every bit of the same.