Ravichandran Ashwin’s spot for the second Test at Durban was under threat, but who would have thought that Ravindra Jadeja would replace him? Most people would have agreed that Pragyan Ojha was the apt replacement, given the fact that he has matched Ashwin at home and took a 10-wicket haul in his last Test match. Was it the right call to play Jadeja instead of the more experienced Ojha? Can Jadeja use his typical tight-bowling to pick up wickets at Durban?
At the outset, it looks like the team management has opted for the closest substitute for Ashwin the cricketer and not Ashwin the spinner. The offie not only bowls his crucial spells but is also a calming influence with the bat. Having him at No 8 is a luxury as he has the ability to score crucial runs and help India extend their score. It is perhaps Jadeja’s batting ability that has helped him trump Ojha in the race for the lone spinner’s spot in the Indian side. India will now continue to bat deep, thanks to his presence and they will continue to have the extra cushion down the order.
Jadeja is more of a containing bowler as he keeps it very tight and hits the right channels consistently. It is that very ability that gets him wickets as the batsmen may get flustered and try to do something extraordinary. During the series against Australia, he was absolutely brilliant as he purchased turn and troubled the batsmen with his consistency.
On the other hand, Ojha has a more contrasting style as he is the attacking option. He will give it air and invite the batsmen to play their strokes. He also has the conventional arm-ball that goes straight through. In fact, both Ojha and Jadeja can use the arm-ball to good effect. So, on the bowling front, Ojha may have been a better option, but India have opted for Jadeja for the all-round option. As a few commentators pointed out, Jadeja has the ability to l turn the ball away from the South African right-handers, and that should help India.
However, bowling at Durban may be a different ball game. Jadeja did decently well during the One-Day International (ODI) here and that should hold him in good stead. He would have to be more attacking as there may not be much assistance from the surface. It is imperative that he performs as India have only four main bowlers at their disposal. If any seamer has a bad day, the pressure would only increase on the team if Jadeja also struggles. Then, effectively, India will be left with only two bowlers. In a way, it is a toss-up, but as we know Mahendra Singh Dhoni gets it right more often than not.
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