Pawan Negi has out stolen a mark over Ravindra Jadeja

The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) is a collection of international superstars. Most of their players have donned their respective international jerseys at some point in their career. It’s heartening when a domestic talent makes waves in such an outfit as Pawan Negi has done this Indian Premier League (IPL) season. Negi was brought in as a replacement for star spinner Ravichandran Ashwin when the latter was injured. Negi grabbed his golden opportunity with both the hands.

Negi is a bowling all-rounder; he bowls slow left-arm orthodox spin and is very handy with the bat. He has done better than Jadeja in his sporadic appearances, both with the bat and the ball. This anomaly is best explained when we focus on their stats. In four matches this season Negi has scored 91 runs at a strike-rate of 189 and picked two wickets at an economy of eight.  On the other hand, in 11 matches this season, Jadeja has batted higher than Negi and has only managed to score 99 runs at a strike- rate of 95.19 and picked only five wickets at an economy of 8.14. The situation is such Dhoni trust him with the ball on crucial occasions.

Negi first featured for Delhi Daredevils (DD) ahead of the 2012 IPL season, when he caught the attention of cricket cognoscenti with his wily spin which helped him pick six wickets for Delhi in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Negi bowled an enchanting spell for DD in that season against Rajasthan Royals, where he decimated Rajasthan Royal (RR) with his canny spin. He picked four wickets for 18 in his spell and changed the course of the game in DD’s favour. However, he was strapped in by CSK ahead of last year’s edition.

In CSK’s previous encounter against Mumbai Indians on Friday, Negi was sent in at No 5, ahead of Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo. Dhoni showed immense faith in the youngster and he stood up to it when he scored a quick-fire 36 off 17 deliveries and provided the much-required impetus to CSK’s run. He was brilliant with the ball until his last over in which he conceded 25 runs. Before that, he only gave away nine runs in three overs.

In the clash against Kolkata Knight Riders, Negi played quite a contrasting innings. His cameo of 27 runs off just 13 balls helped CSK get to a respectable total. Whereas, Jadeja floundered with 24 off 30 deliveries, an innings which stagnated the scoreboard big time.  Negi was far more convincing with the ball. His figure of 1 for 23 in his 4 overs is a testament to his self-belief against a formidable batting line- up of KKR. In the same game, Jadeja was taken to the cleaners by the KKR batsmen; he conceded 25 runs in his two overs. CSK lost the game by a whisker, but Negi was hailed for his valiant overall performance.

Negi’s strength lies in his trajectory and the copious flight he gives the ball. In a T20 game a bowler is always under the pump and very rarely a spinner dares to toss the ball up as there is a probability of being hit out of the park. Negi was successful because he was slower through the air, whereas Jadeja’s deliveries are relatively quicker. Clearly, Negi deserves to get preference if it comes to a choice between him and the more experienced Jadeja.


(Suraj Choudhari, an avid cricket follower who plays the sport at club level, is a staffer with Criclife)


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