Despite the various controversies he’s figured in, here’s a player who is the archetype of the new-age uber-useful cricketer. Meet Ravindra Jadeja. SHREEDUTTA CHIDANANDA
Ravindra Jadeja may have expected to face any of the several deliveries in Shane Warne’s (much-shrunk) repertoire, but walking out to bat at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Sunday night, he would have scarcely envisioned the bouncer his former captain eventually bowled at him. Jadeja and Rajasthan Royals did not part ways in the most harmonious of circumstances, and if Warne’s reaction is anything to go by, the matter still rankles.
Alleged to have attempted to negotiate a contract with other IPL sides in the lead up to the competition’s third edition, Jadeja was banned for one year before being bought by Kochi Tuskers Kerala for $ 950,000 this season.
An all rounder
While purists may baulk at the thought of labelling him an all-rounder, the 22-year-old is, in many ways, the ideal T20 player; the archetype of the new-age uber-useful cricketer. A decent batsman, an economical left-arm spinner (an obligatory presence in every IPL side, it now appears), and a good fielder, Jadeja embodies the term ‘value for money’.
Jadeja’s batting figures this IPL season suggest some improvement. He has scored 162 runs in six matches for KTK, striking at 151.40, and picked up five wickets at an economy rate of 7.40 along the way. Although his performances in IPL-1 did not remain in public consciousness in the way Yusuf Pathan’s did, Jadeja came into his own the following year. Although he didn’t score a single half-century, the left-hander was the highest run-getter for Rajasthan Royals, scoring 295 runs in 13 innings at 110.90, and also recorded an admirable bowling economy rate of 6.47.
Jadeja’s spot in the national side, however, has always been questioned. He may have been scoffed at as a bits-and-pieces cricketer but his value to the team must not be judged on the basis of his batting or bowling alone but both in conjunction. Pilloried for his calamitous 35-ball 25 in the three-run defeat to England that led to India’s exit from the 2009 World Twenty20, Saurashtra-born Jadeja has been an easy hate figure for Indian supporters. There was further opprobrium in store when in an ODI against Australia at Hyderabad later that year, he inanely ran himself out with the team on the brink of victory. India eventually lost the match by three runs. Off-field shenanigans, including the alleged pub fracas at St. Lucia in the aftermath of India’s exit from last year’s World Twenty20, have not helped matters. (News of his price at the auction triggered a torrent of text-message and Internet jokes.)
Part of the 2008 under-19 World Cup-winning squad led by Virat Kohli, Jadeja has played 35 ODIs for India since his debut more than two years ago. He featured in only one match in the home series against New Zealand last year, and was dropped for the South Africa tour, with Yusuf Pathan performing a similar role better. Jadeja was also on the 30-member probables list for the World Cup but did not make the final squad.
It is easy to forget, though, that it was his performances in domestic cricket for Saurashtra that earned Jadeja a call-up to the national side. He finished joint highest wicket-taker and sixth-highest run-scorer in the 2008-09 Ranji Trophy Super League. Jadeja will perhaps remember the season for his monstrous, unbroken, 520-run stand with Cheteshwar Pujara against Orissa. Pujara made 302 and Jadeja 232 as the pair notched up the highest fifth-wicket partnership in any first class cricket, eclipsing the 464 the Waugh twins managed, on a bouncy WACA pitch in 1990.
Age: 22 years
Style: Left-hand batsman, slow left arm bowler
Teams: India, Saurashtra, Kochi Tuskers Kerala
ODI debut: Sri Lanka v India at Colombo (RPS), Feb 8, 2009
T20I debut Sri Lanka v India at Colombo (RPS), Feb 10, 2009
Maharashtra v Saurashtra at Mumbai (BS), Apr 4, 2007
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