By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Ravindra Jadeja has been a phenomenal success since his return to the Indian team during the tour to England. His inclusion in the eleven has helped India strike the right balance which eluded them for quite some time. As a bowler, Jadeja is a miser in the middle overs as he strangles the batsmen and doesn’t allow them to dominate. At No 7, he comes across as a dynamic batsman who can adjust according to the pace of the game. Since his comeback One- Day International (ODI) at The Oval, he has gone from strength to strength and is just grabbing every opportunity coming his way.
Recently, Wasim Akram, the great Pakistan cricketer said that it is very difficult to choose between Yusuf Pathan and Jadeja for the all-rounder’s spot. He also added that Jadeja’s may have performed well, but it is too early to say that India have found their all-rounder in the long run.
Jadeja is a part of India’s current plans as far as ODIs are concerned and he is performing consistently. His bowling has been a major factor in limiting the scoring. He has added flight to his weaponry and that has allowed him to trick quite a few batsmen. The straighter ones and the conventional left-armers are mixed up well adding to his element of surprise. He looks a much better bowler and (more importantly) a much more effective wicket-taking option when compared to his earlier stint with the Indian team.
In the time he has spent outside the national set-up, Jadeja has worked on his batting and has emerged as a very effective No 7. InEngland he played a rescue knock in one of the ODIs which highlighted his ability to fight it out in the middle in tough situations. In the home series against England, he batted in the latter stages of the innings and did his bit by scoring crucial runs.
In comparison, Pathan’s batting was never in doubt as he has the ability to tear apart any bowling attack on his day. When on song, the Baroda marauder can hit sixes at will and spring surprise victories for his team. However, when he was with the Indian team, his bowling looked ineffective and he didn’t have the potency to trouble the batsmen. He just seemed to fire the faster ones in and had become predictable in most matches.
Prior to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, Jadeja and Pathan contested with each other for the all-rounder’s spot. The two were eager to make an impact to book their place in the squad to represent India at the biggest event. All that changed when Pathan started showing consistency with the bat. His hundred at Bangalore against New Zealand took India to victory from a precarious position. He followed that up with two good knocks on the South African tour earlier this year which justified his selection into the World Cup squad.
Pathan didn’t light the stage at the World Cup and has an abysmal tour to the West Indies. It was his batting that got him into the side and once he started failing, the selectors lost patience. As a bowler he was useful, but never looked threatening enough to pick up wickets.
On the other hand, Jadeja’s batting was a disappointment before the World Cup which saw him in second place in the race for the all-rounder’s spot. He showed shades of brilliance with the ball but wasn’t consistent enough. However, on his return in England he has shown a marked escalation in his batting ability and an attacking bowling arm. Due to consistency in both the aspects of the game, he has been able to keep Pathan out of India’s scheme of things.
One the batting front, Pathan may be a bit ahead with his big hitting and game-changing abilities. But when it comes to bowling, Jadeja has his nose in front because of his variations and variety. Thus, it all boils down to consistency if one has to make a choice between the two. Before the World Cup, Pathan started showing signs of reliability, but off late it is Jadeja who has exhibited similar trends - that too in both departments.
If Jadeja’s maintains his good run, it would be difficult for Pathan to get back. However, if Pathan gets an opportunity or two he needs to show the same form he displayed earlier this year with the bat and also display a lot more guile with the ball. The knee injury comes as a great setback for Pathan as it threatens to rule him out of the rest of the Ranji season. It has dented his hopes of a comeback to the Indian setup as he would have liked to use his domestic opportunities. On the other hand, things look very bright for Jadeja as his triple hundred in the Ranji Trophy brought him more limelight and further justified his batting talent.
For now, it is Jadeja who has a firm grip over the spot.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 21-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.")