By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Ravindra Jadeja and Rohit Sharma are two very talented young cricketers who are accused of performing only in the Indian Premier League. The League, which is into its fourth season, has seen some fantastic performances by various cricketers which have led them to being picked for Team India. Jadeja and Rohit got a longer stay with the team than the others, but did not do justice to their talent at the highest level.
Rohit was spoken of highly in the Mumbai cricketing circles even before he played for India. Some people had expected him to be a surprise pick for the 2007 World Cup after the probables were announced in which his name featured. He was picked for the England tour that year, but became a regular feature in the ODI setup only during the CB series Down Under. However, he did not maintain the consistency and has been in and out of the ODI team since. He didn’t make it to the 2011 World Cup squad which would have disappointed him and quite a few others who thought he should have established himself in the Indian set-up by now.
India has been on the look out for a quality all-rounder after the retirement of Kapil Dev. When Jadeja put in good performances for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL and Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy, he was picked for Team India as an all-rounder who would bat at the important No 7 position. He showed promise in his first One-Day International when he scored a fifty. However, he wasn’t able to build on that in the matches ahead. His bowling was consistent, but his batting disappointed one and all. On quite a few occasions he did not show the temperament with the bat for the big occasion. In the important clash against England in the 2009 ICC World T20, he crawled to 25 which really damaged India’s chances in that game and the tournament. In the Hyderabad ODI against Australia in 2009, made famous by Sachin Tendulkar’s 175, Jadeja’s his running between the wickets wasn’t the best. India fell short by four runs to overhaul a massive Australia target of 351 and Jadeja’s running between the wickets came in sharp focus.
Both Rohit and Jadeja have played extremely well in all the editions of the IPL they have been a part of (Jadeja missed the third edition due to a ban). Rohit has shown the ability to muscle the ball around the park without taking too many risks and Jadeja has shown good all round ability. They have put in a few good performances for India but going by their talent they can do a lot better.
There was never a doubt regarding their abilities. It was just a matter of when then they would find their feet and actually reach a stage where one can say “they belong to this level.” One thing that was a factor was the pressure. The pressure while playing for India is immense and is nothing compared to what a player playing for his franchise would face.
I think, this is the right time for Rohit and Jadeja to make a comeback to Team India. There are a few reasons why they deserve a chance again.
Firstly, they are much fitter than they were before the World Cup. Rohit has lost a few pounds and is now looking much fitter than what he was during the South Africa tour early this year. His fielding for the Mumbai Indians has been absolutely terrific and it shows the work he has put in during the last three months. Even his running between the wickets seems to be quicker. Jadeja looks much stronger than what he used to be. He seems to have renewed strength in his arms that enables him to hit huge sixes for the Kochi Tuskers Kerala. His bowling was never a problem and now that he looks in much better shape with the bat, it would be an ideal time to give him a run in the Indian side.
The second reason why I believe they should be picked is that there would not be too much pressure as there was probably last year. In the last two years, the focus was the World Cup and every performance was scrutinized keeping in mind the big tournament. Now that the World Cup is over and more importantly in the bag, the pressure would not be as high it used to be before it. With some senior players opting out of the West Indies ODI series, it would give them time to try and settle in the Indian scheme of things.
Thridly, if Team India wants to start focusing on the next World Cup, Rohit and Jadeja will have to be seen as two very important players. Some of the members of the current World Cup-winning side would not be playing the next time. A batsman of Rohit’s talent is required if India wants to defend its title successfully. Even though Yuvraj was splendid with the ball in this World Cup, India needs an all-rounder in the long run and Jadeja should be tried again.
Rohit and Jadeja have done very well in the IPL so far and with the World Cup won, it would be a very good time to pick them again for the Indian side. They look hungrier, fitter and raring to go.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 20-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.")
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