Ravindra Jadeja the bowler is critical to the balance of Indian bowling attack

Ravindra Jadeja (above) bowled a miserly spell and accounted for two batsmen in the second ODI against England at Kochi © Getty Images

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

Ravindra Jadeja powered India to victory in the second One-Day International (ODI) against England – with an all-round performance that would certainly silence his critics – for the moment, at least. He changed the complexion of the game with his batting in the slog overs. And during England’s reply, he maintained the pressure with a miserly spell and accounted for two batsmen. It is an encouraging performance and one that would give him tremendous confidence.

In the past, Jadeja has come in and done well in a few games, but only to fizzle out in the matches that followed. During one of Jadeja’s good runs, Wasim Akram had warned that India shouldn’t say that their search is over. He had even said that Yusuf Pathan is in the race for the spot. However, Jadeja must capitalise on his opportunities and cement his spot in the team with consistent performances.

For a major part of his ODI career, Jadeja has batted at No 7. At that position, it is like being caught between the devil and the deep sea. There are typically two situations in which the No 7 comes into bat – either when there is a batting collapse or when the platform has been set and he is expected to hit out. If there is a collapse, the pressure of rebuilding the innings is intense. It’s a monumental task. On the other hand, in the slog overs, the batsman has to go on the attack from the word go; there is no time to gauge the wicket and the bowling and the risk factors are high.

In a 62-match career, Jadeja averages 29.33. Out of those 62 matches, he has batted at No 7 32 times and has averaged 25.75 there. At first glance, those numbers may not look very impressive, but considering that fact that it has come so low down the order – it is decent. For batsmen who have batted at No 7 in over 30 ODI innings, only five average over 30. That puts Jadeja’s average in proper perspective.

There is no dearth of batsmen in India and it is clear that Jadeja has the edge because of the value-add his bowling and fielding gets to the team. The fifth bowler gives India greater depth. Jadeja is no part-timer like a Yuvraj Singh and his success with the ball is imperative. He gets into the eleven ahead of Rohit Sharma or even Yusuf on the strength of the value his bowling gives to the side. As a fifth bowler, Jadeja takes a lot of the burden off the fast bowlers and Ravichandran Ashwin and gives Dhoni a cushion, should one of the front-line bowlers has a poor day. That is when Yuvraj and Suresh Raina come in – to bowl out the remaining quota of overs.

In recent times, Jadeja has been a subject of several unfair jokes. As one of the commentators pointed out, the all-rounder has had too many detractors in recent years. It is perhaps the high expectations that have resulted in such comments. He may have been mediocre at times, but there is no denying the fact that if Jadeja performs to potential he is one to watch out for.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)