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Joe Root (right) struggled in Bangladesh and the conditions in India will not be friendly enough. But yes, friendly enough if you are Ravindra Jadeja AFP & Getty Images

Ravindra Jadeja is into his eighth year of international cricket. He has played 185 international games for India and is still searching his first hundred but when it comes to First-Class cricket, he has the rare distinction of being the owner of three triple hundreds. In the winter of 2012, India were involved in a tug-of-war with England, meanwhile Jadeja gleefully brought up triple tons in Ranji Trophy at Rajkot with ease. After three Tests, India were in an unfamiliar position at home, trailing the series 1-2. The Nagpur Test was a do-or-die for hosts, at least to salvage some pride. A win here would save them from the embarrassment of series defeat at home. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs England 1st Test at Rajkot

An SOS was sent to Jadeja, a man in sublime form in Ranji Trophy. In the fourth Test at Nagpur, Jadeja came into the side in place of Yuvraj Singh. While India loaded their side with four spinners for the final Test, the English camp went on to drop their third spinner in favour of an opening batsman. Joe Root had not even played any of the three tour games ahead of the series. The young Yorkshire opener with a First-Class average in the mid-30s was drafted into the middle-order ahead of his county teammate and specialist Jonny Bairstow. He replaced spin-bowling all-rounder Samit Patel. A bold move from English cricket, considering they were eyeing history if they won or saved the final Test.

Jadeja vs Root

Jadeja, who had just turned 23, and Root who was days short of his 22nd birthday, were presented with their Test caps. On a difficult surface for scoring runs freely, Jadeja with his accurate left-arm spin further stifled the run flow while Root resembling a schoolboy displayed little nerves in unfamiliar condition and position. Batting at No.6 and coming out in a precarious position, Root struck a fine 73 in the first innings. He batted well with the lower half, guiding England to 330.

Root got 93 runs in the Test and got out only once. However he did not have an easy outing against Jadeja. Out of the 82 balls that he faced from the left-armer, he scored only 10. Jadeja s debut was far from spectacular. All he managed was 3 wickets but they were top scalps. Twice he got Kevin Pietersen out and the other wicket was of Jonathan Trott, who struck a hundred in the second innings. England tour of India: All you need to know

There was no fairy-tale with the bat as well. The only triple hundred Jadeja was involved this time was the team score. India declared at 326. Jadeja was adjudged leg-before off the bowling of James Anderson, a bowler with whom he shared bitter rivalry in the next tour.

Round II

When India toured England in 2014, the visitors had an upper hand when they won the Lord s Test. However Joe Root s inspiring show turned the tides in England s favour. He was the best batsman in the series, amassing 518 runs at 103.60. Root owned this round but Jadeja had his moments against the Yorkshire fellow when he dismissed him leg before in the Lord s Test and later got him bowled once. There were mind games as well.

After losing the Lord s Test, England came back strong to win at Southampton and Old Trafford to go up 2-1. Root revealed that the ugly spat between Anderson and Jadeja that almost turned into a physical altercation actually helped England stage a comeback.

It gave us another incentive to want to throw a punch back at them. We have stayed really tight as a side even when we were struggling at Lord s, but that incident did make us slightly tighter. We didn t let it affect us, Root was quoted as saying in The Telegraph. Ben Stokes England s biggest threat to India on upcoming tour

This challenge will be different.

Root struggled in Bangladesh and the conditions in India will not be friendly enough. But yes, friendly enough if you are Jadeja. The first Test is at Rajkot, Jadeja s home ground. Licking fingers to apply saliva on the ball led to Root s stomach bug in Bangladesh but at Rajkot, Jadeja will surely be licking fingers literally.

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Ravindra Jadeja (middle) celebrates the wicket of Joe Root (left) in the first innings of Lord s Test in 2014 Getty Images

The talks are about Root vs Kohli and Alastair Cook vs Ravichandran Ashwin but the Jadeja threat may go on to be the differentiator in this series. Jadeja can bowl long spells, stifle down runs and yes pick wickets too.

The present

From that winter morning in Nagpur, all three Jadeja, Root and the city of Nagpur have enhanced their reputation.

While Root, the fourth-ranked batsman in ICC Test rankings, is being talked about more during the build-up, let us not forget Jadeja s rank. He is Test cricket s seventh-ranked bowler and fifth-ranked all-rounder.

Jadeja has the best bowling average amongst bowlers with over 50 wickets in subcontinent. The list speaks volumes about Jadeja s lethalness in these conditions.

Bowler M W Ave BB SR Econ R 5WI 10W
Ravindra Jadeja 12 64 17.53 5-21 51.3 2.04 4 0
Richie Benaud 12 71 19.32 7-72 61.9 1.87 6 1
Wes Hall 11 54 20.05 6-50 43.9 2.73 3 1
Ravichandran Ashwin 26 179 20.06 7-59 42.4 2.83 19 6
Imran Khan 51 205 20.28 8-58 48.8 2.48 12 3

Also, amongst all Indian bowlers with over 50 Test wickets, Jadeja has the best bowling average. His average of 23.52 is followed by his spin partner Ashwin, whose numbers read 24.29.

Meanwhile, since Root s debut no batsman has scored more runs than him.

Batsman Tests Runs HS Ave 100s 50s
Joe Root 48 4,103 254 53.28 10 23
David Warner 43 4,005 253 50.69 13 21
Steven Smith 40 3,874 215 61.49 15 15
Alastair Cook 49 3,585 263 41.68 6 23
Kane Williamson 36 3,481 242* 60.01 11 18

However, in subcontinental conditions, Root has failed to register a hundred. In the 6 Tests that he has played in subcontinent, he has registered 478 runs at 47.80. He has five fifties to his name. Root is used to score big knocks and this time around mere fifties won t do. He will need those daddy tons.

From rookies in 2012, both these boys have grown in reputation and transformed themselves to the very best. Meanwhile the venue when they made their debut was all over the news last year. The city has a history with interesting surfaces. The green wicket in 2004 led to India s defeat against the visiting Australians. The sluggish Nagpur wicket of 2012 was termed diabolical by many from cricket fraternity in 2015 when it was turning square from Day One. Even ICC rated it poor . Earlier this year, on a turning Nagpur surface, New Zealand spinners triumphed over India s batting as the former registered a win in the opener of ICC World T20 2016.

India and England, later on this tour, play a Twenty20 (T20) here. Seems Nagpur too has grown with these two talented cricketers.

***

Jadeja made it to the Test side mainly due to his batting as he was scoring triple tons at will. Root, a Yorkshire opener, was picked majorly as Nick Compton s stand by. It has been an unusual rise. While Jadeja is amongst the best spin bowlers in the world, Root is amongst the finest middle-order batsmen to have played for England.

The Root vs Jadeja contest will perhaps not make it to the billboards but a triumph on either side will end up playing a huge role in determining which side India or England will lift the trophy.

(SuvajitMustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer, strategist, entrepreneur, philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully [Twitter] and rivu7 [Facebook].)