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India tour of South Africa 2013: Should India play a specialist batsman instead of Ravindra Jadeja?

Ravindra Jadeja hasn't yet proved his worth as a batsman in Test cricket © IANS (File Photo)
Ravindra Jadeja hasn’t yet proved his worth as a batsman in Test cricket © IANS (File Photo)

 

Ravindra Jadeja is set to bat at No 7 being the all-rounder in the side. It is mainly his bowling that gets him into the Test side, as his batting is yet to be tested in the arena. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks at the records and determines whether India are better off playing a more specialist batsman instead of the all-rounder.

 

Should India play the all-rounder or the extra batsman? With Dale Steyn and Co. steaming in, there is a case to play a specialist batsman instead of Ravindra Jadeja to strengthen the batting line-up. During the recently concluded One-Day International (ODI) series, the batting was put to serious test and with the practice game washed out; there is a mountain that lies ahead. Jadeja has occupied the No 7 spot when fit and he is likely to play at that spot, but should India consider playing an Ajinkya Rahane or Ambati Rayudu at No 6 with Mahendra Singh Dhoni coming in at No 7?

 

So far, Jadeja hasn’t had too many opportunities to shine with the bat in Test cricket. His only innings of note is a 43 against Australia at Delhi. India have batted so well that they haven’t required his services too many times at No 7. With him coming in to the line-up, Dhoni jumped one spot ahead. As Jadeja missed the Test series against West Indies, Rohit Sharma could come into the side and settled himself with two tons. Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement means there is one more spot vacant and that allows Jadeja back into the side.

 

However, the whole point of Jadeja being in the side is based on his all-round abilities. His left-arm orthodox is an ideal foil to Ravichandran Ashwin’s off-spin, and India has the fifth bowler to take the burden off the four frontline options. They can play three seamers with Ashwin and Jadeja handling the spinning duties. But, how much has spin played a part in South Africa? After all, it is a land that is known to support the pacers:

 

Here is a break-up of the wickets taken by pace and spin bowlers in South Africa since the Proteas returned to Test cricket in 1992:

M

W

Ave

5WI

10WM

BBI

BBM

SR

Pace

105

2591

29.19

105

13

7/29

12/139

58.0

Spin

105

596

37.79

17

2

7/120

11/169

79.8

 

 

It is clear from this table that spin hasn’t been a very effective force in South Africa. The gulf between the two types of bowlers is very evident from this table. The spinners have taken less than 20 per cent of the wickets to fall in South Africa since 1992, and this is proof of a preference for the seamers there. That brings the question: Is there any merit in playing Jadeja at No 7 mainly because of his bowling? Wouldn’t India be better of playing a more specialist batsman instead?

 

For starters, Jadeja does give more options and is a cushion. On the other hand, Rahane or a Rayudu may actually strengthen the batting line-up as they are superior batsmen. Dhoni can now come down at No 7, with either of these men coming at No 6. It looks unlikely though as Rahane is only one Test old and Rayudu is yet to don his Test cap. Playing them may actually be a big risk at this stage. Jadeja may get the nod after all, as he does have the team management’s confidence.

 

Perhaps, this is the time Jadeja, the Test batsman would face his real battle. Time for him to stand up with the willow.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

 

 South Africa vs India — Live on Ten Cricket

 

 

Catch online live streaming of India vs South Africa ODI series here

 

 

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