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Ravindra Jadeja is the fourth Indian bowler to reach the top-spot in ICC ODI Rankings for bowlers © AFP

Ravindra Jadeja’s ascent to the summit of the ICC One-Day International (ODI) rankings for bowlers is a reward for his consistency. Not long ago, he was ridiculed mercilessly and today he stands vindicated to complete the ultimate critic silencing act. Nishad Pai Vaidya traces the all-rounder’s recent success story.

Less than a year ago, Ravindra Jadeja was the butt of all jokes — tagged with the popular but condescending moniker ‘Sir’.  The criticisms were merciless — almost mocking his every move on the field. Some even went to the extent of questioning his cricketing credentials. Being an Indian cricketer is no easy job as one is under perpetual scrutiny, but the tirade directed towards Jadeja was appalling and unkind.

Today, that same player tops the charts for bowlers in One-Day Internationals (ODI) and is second on the all-rounders’ list. What an incredible turnaround it has been!  CricketCountry’s Aayush Puthran, had predicted in as early as January this year that Jadeja may well have the last laugh.

Jadeja has become the fourth Indian bowler to top the ODI rankings. Normally, we have seen Indian batsmen dominate the ratings. However, Jadeja’s rise shows that Indian cricket is stepping into a new era. Here you have an Indian bowler leading the rankings, an all-rounder at the second spot. This comes from a land that has yearned for dominating bowlers and an all-rounder post Kapil Dev’s retirement. This only reflects the value of Jadeja’s achievement and it signifies the new India. After all, they are leading the table in ODIs.

Here is a list of Indian bowlers who have topped the ODI rankings in the past:

 

Name Time at the top
Anil Kumble November 1996 to December 1996
Kapil Dev March 1989
Maninder Singh December 1987 to November 1988

If one looks at the table, one can enlist a few notable Indian bowlers who haven’t risen to the top spot. Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan are arguably India’s best fast-bowlers in recent times and have played a lot of one-day cricket. Harbhajan Singh was also a fixture in the side and the team depended mainly on him at one stage. Although they were counted amongst the best in the world, they couldn’t quite challenge the coveted top spot. Unlike the names discussed, Jadeja is an all-rounder and has still managed to scale the summit.

Since his return to the Indian One-Day International (ODI) side in December 2012, Jadeja has been a undisputed force with both bat and ball. Prior to that, he would shine in patches and then slip into prolonged phases of mediocrity which ultimately led to his ouster. Thus, when he had a couple of good outings against England early this year, critics were still sceptical. However, a few months down the line, Jadeja stands vindicated as he has not only performed consistently, but also placed himself among the best bowlers in the world. His rise has been meteoric in the last few months and statistics reflect the progress.

Here is a break-up of his one-day bowling record:

M W Ave BBM Eco
Before December 2012 58 57 38.42 4/32 4.98
Since December 2012 22 38 18.86 5/36 3.78
Total 80 95 30.60 5/36 4.62

In his last 22 ODIs, Jadeja has scalped a remarkable 38 wickets at an average of 18.86. Not only that, but he has also created the pressure by keeping it tight — as the economy rate of 3.78 would suggest. Before this rich vein of form, Jadeja struggled to maintain high standards and had infact played more matches than taken wickets. Now, his bowling average has dropped from 38.42 to 30.60. Cementing his spot in the eleven was nothing but a natural conclusion and he is almost indispensable to India’s cause.

The most impressive aspect of his bowling has been his accuracy and discipline. He has this ability to pitch the ball at the same spot continuously and trouble the batsmen with his variations. There are a few that turn precociously, while others just go straight through. By holding a particular line and length, Jadeja then mixes up the turners and the straighter ones. The batsman may anticipate where it would pitch, but wouldn’t be sure about its direction. Thus, they are often beaten as they end up playing late — waiting to survey the turn.

Earlier, Jadeja used to only fire them into the blockhole and had become all too predictable. He rarely varied his pace and wouldn’t purchase a lot of turn. The nagging accuracy without the variations wasn’t yielding the desired results. When coupled with the new weapons (the turning one and the subtle flight), it has allowed Jadeja to blossom into a very effective bowler.

With him in the side, India can play the extra fast-bowler. He supports Ravichandran Ashwin well in the middle-overs and has filled the void of the fifth bowler. India only filled in those overs with part-time options, but Jadeja gives them a genuine wicket-taking hand. As far as his batting is concerned, he contributes with the quickfire innings down the order. Batting at No 7, he doesn’t get too many opportunities and walks into situations that require consolidation or instant hitting. He has adjusted to the demands well and has made a difference to India’s eventual scores.

More than anything, Jadeja looks confident and aggressive on the field of play. His electric fielding personifies that trait. When he is in action, there always seems to be something in the offing and that is because of the confidence he exudes. His transformation is great news for Indian cricket and they would hope it spills into the Test arena. He has already had a brilliant series against Australia at home, but there is a lot more India expects from him after the latest milestone.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)