The man with the golden arm, Jadeja was the second highest wicket taker during the recently concluded Test series between India and South Africa
The man with the golden arm, Ravindra Jadeja was the second highest wicket taker during the recently concluded Test series between India and South Africa © AFP

On Tuesday, Pune and Rajkot were declared as venues of two new franchises for the next two seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL.) The move came after the RM Lodha-led panel suspended Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) for two years in relation to the 2013 IPL corruption scandal. Pune has earlier been a part of the IPL, with Sahara group’s Pune Warriors India playing in three seasons from 2011 to 2013 before being terminated from the league.  Rajkot, on the other hand, will have its first tryst with the cash-rich tournament when the franchise turns out in IPL-9. READ: Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja take giant strides in ICC ratings

The new franchises will now take part in a player draft on December 15, where both teams will pick five players each from a pool of CSK and RR players. Though all eyes will be on where MS Dhoni lands up after the auction, a certain Ravindra Jadeja will have fair share of the media spotlight. Fans will be keen to see whether or not Jadeja is bought by the Rajkot franchise — a team representing his homeland. The man with the golden arm, Jadeja was the second highest wicket taker during the recently concluded Test series between India and South Africa. Incidentally, he was making his comeback to the team in the series.

The 27-year Saurashtra all-rounder has been an integral part of all the IPL franchises he has played for so far. He made his IPL debut in the inaugural edition, where he was a part of the RR team under spin-wizard Shane Warne. Then a 20-year old, Jadeja left an indelible impression on Warne, who gave him the title of ‘Rockstar’! The Australian legend even predicted that Jadeja would go on to play for India in the time to come, a prophecy that indeed came true. His negotiations with other franchises without Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI’s) approval resulted in a one year ban in 2010. But he made a stunning comeback next year to play for the now defunct Kochi Tuskers Kerala (KTK) franchise, where again he proved to be a mainstay. ALSO READ: MS Dhoni in Pune franchise for IPL 2016: Sanjiv Goenka declines to comment

The watershed moment though came in the year 2012, when Jadeja was bought by the CSK franchise during the player auction for a whopping $2 million. He thus became one of the costliest buys in the history of the league. His rise in the CSK ranks coincided with his rise in Indian cricket. With some decent performances in last four seasons since, Jadeja has become one of MS Dhoni’s most trusted lieutenants in the limited-overs as well as for the home Tests. In the domestic circuit too he has scored prolifically all this while and has picked bucket load of wickets.

During his time with the Indian team, Jadeja failed as well and that too on crucial occasions. This earned him fans’ ire, who even sarcastically granted him knighthood and started referring to as ‘Sir Jadeja’. He got trolled for his naive ways and even his fondness for horses. But undeterred, Jadeja kept doing his job to the best of his abilities. And come IPL season nine, the southpaw might well end up being the ‘Icon’ or the marquee player for his hometown Rajkot’s franchise. If it does happen, it will be undoubtedly the biggest moment of his career.

He may get some fight from another Rajkot-lad Cheteshwar Pujara. However, Pujara’s ineptness in the shortest format may go against him. So, all-in-all, Jadeja seems to be the perfect choice to be the face of the Rajkot franchise; both in cricketing as well as branding terms.  We will have to wait for a week though to know whether this becomes a reality or not, as the new franchises will be taking part in a player draft on December 15, where both teams will pick five players each from a pool of CSK and RR players. And with Pune getting the opportunity to pick first, in all likelihood, they will go for Dhoni. Rajkot’s first pick could be a toss-up between Suresh Raina and Jadeja, and the latter might just pip the former on the emotional grounds.

 (A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)