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Ravindra Jadeja has been an all-rounder in the one-day formats, but in Test cricket, he was mainly considered for his bowling. However, his recent performance at Lord’s shows that he can be an all-rounder for India. Nishad Pai Vaidya reminisces on Jadeja’s day at Lord’s and how he may have changed his Test career.
There was a lot more to the contest than what transpired on the field alone. Ravindra Jadeja walked out at Lord’s on Day Four, with a host of challenges ahead. Firstly, he was public enemy no 1 given his alleged face-off with James Anderson. Secondly, India were in trouble at 203 for six, leading by only 179 runs. Thirdly, there still were questions over his batting in Test cricket, which hasn’t been quite consistent. True to his popular moniker of ‘sir’, Jadeja bossed his way into the contest and took India to a position where they could dictate terms.
To put things in perspective, one must bring in Murali Vijay’s innings. The opener toiled hard for hours and was the anchor of the innings. With intense concentration, he let go of deliveries outside the off-stump. He only scored off deliveries in his zone and battled with the other questions posed by the pitch and the bowlers. Vijay’s innings shows that it wasn’t easy to bat by any means. A small lapse in concentration ended his stay in the middle, but he had laid the foundation for Jadeja to charge.
Jadeja stunned the English bowlers by taking it to them. It was quite a contrast from his performance at Nottingham, where he took 38 deliveries to get off the mark. At Lord’s, it took him only four more deliveries to complete his half-century. The conditions at Lord’s were much easier, but the situations were contrasting. Back in Nottingham, he had to bide his time and take India to a safe zone. At Lord’s, a result was there for the taking and one side had to seize the initiative. Jadeja’s move of attacking the bowlers threw their plans off-track and hindered their rhythm.
The ease with which Jadeja played caught the eye. The charges down the ground to the fast bowlers looked comical when he missed at Nottingham, but it was a different story at Lord’s. The lofted shots through the line were proof of his hand-eye co-ordination. The pull shot also showed that he isn’t afraid of taking on the short ball. In a nutshell, Jadeja showed that he can succeed in Test cricket as a batsman. It is only a matter of him converting such scores into big ones. But at Lord’s, India would take that 68.
While the world may rave about Jadeja’s attacking knock and its bearing on the whole game, his bowling shouldn’t be pushed into oblivion. On a seamer’s surface, he has truly looked threatening. It isn’t just about the second essay, but even during the first innings, he had posed numerous questions. Getting a wicket off his first ball was a masterstroke and thereafter, he built the pressure. Though Alastair Cook and Gary Ballance didn’t lose their wickets to him, he built up the pressure by frequently inducing the edges. Towards the end of play, it was unfortunate that he couldn’t dismiss Moeen Ali, but he will get his chance on the final day.
An interesting point raised by some of the commentators was that India have truly found some batting depth in their lower order. Jadeja’s batting abilities weren’t in doubt given the fact that he has three triple-centuries in Test cricket and a good One-Day International (ODI) record. It was just a matter of him converting that into results in the longer format and whether he could apply himself. He has shown that he can make it work in his own way. Apart from him, India have had Stuart Binny making an impression and of course Bhuvneshwar Kumar. While Binny is a batting all-rounder, Bhuvneshwar is a bowler who bats. Jadeja is one genuine all-round option who may have well changed his Test career.
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