Ajay Jadeja would remain one of the most brilliant minds in Indian cricket © Getty Images
Ajay Jadeja remains one of the most brilliant minds in Indian cricket © Getty Images

The Ranji Trophy North Zone One-Day contest between Haryana and Services on January 12, 1995 could well have been a forgotten match, but is usually remembered for Ajay Jadeja’s tactical acumen while batting with Sonu Sharma. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at how Jadeja converted a penalty to his advantage while batting with the tail.

There are batsmen who keep faith in the tail, allowing them to take strike. The solution may be slightly different if the 18-year old tail-ender in question has batted only twice at state level, scoring 2 and 13. But then, the man in question was Ajay Jadeja — one of the finest brains to have played for India.

It was very cold and windy that morning. The conditions were overcast, and Chinmoy Sharma was correct in putting Haryana in. The openers were removed with a mere 13 on the board before captain Amarjit Kaypee joined Jadeja. The pair added 76 in just over an hour before Kaypee was trapped LBW by off-spinner Satyanarayana Subramanya for a crucial 35.

A procession followed, with the next six Haryana batsmen falling for 0, 5, 4, 6, and 0. Interestingly, four of these men were run out: Jadeja, one of India’s fastest runners between wickets at that time, ran furiously to retain strike, but the others could not cope.

When Sonu walked out the score read 135 for 8. There was not much hope. Though Jadeja, well past fifty, was in complete control, wickets had been tumbling around Jadeja. Boundaries were not coming his way. He needed a plan.

One short to success

In 1995, Law 19 stated: “So often as the Batsmen after a hit, or at any time while the ball is in play, shall have crossed and made good their ground from end to end; but if either Batsman run a short run, the Umpire shall call and signal ‘One short’ and that run shall not be scored.”

Obviously, this was one of those rare of laws of the sport that were designed to penalise batsmen. However, the shrewdness of Jadeja turned this to his advantage.

The Services game-plan was clear. They would allow Jadeja singles (but not off the last two or so balls of the over), and bring the field up for Sonu. They dried up the twos and fours for Jadeja.

But then, they were up against Jadeja. He worked a way around this. He went about hitting the ball to the fielders on the fence. If the ball went behind Jadeja, he would simply cross Sonu and come back, while Sonu would run two lengths of the pitch. Similarly, if the ball was hit straight (past Sonu), Jadeja would do the hard work and run two, resulting in a “one-short” at the other end.

It still got them one run (after one short), but Jadeja would retain strike. The runs kept coming, and yet Jadeja managed to remain on strike.

The ploy worked as Jadeja and Sonu ran frantically, putting on 12 for the ninth wicket. The score may sound frugal, but it must be remembered here that barring Jadeja and Kaypee, no Haryana batsman reached 10.

Sonu was the fifth man to be run out. Jadeja’s Herculean 117-ball 74 was brought to an end by Chinmoy, who bowled him with his medium-pacers. A mere 18 of the 74 came in boundaries. Haryana were bowled out for 147 in 38 overs.

It turned out to be enough: Services were reduced to 38 for 3, and never recovered. They were skittled out for 113 in 35.1 overs. To his credit, Sonu finished with 2 for 26.

What followed?

The law for ‘one short’ underwent a change thereafter, probably due to Jadeja’s antics. Law 18.5 now states:

“If either umpire considers that either or both batsmen deliberately run short at his end, the umpire concerned shall, when the ball is dead, inform the other umpire of what has occurred. The bowler’s end umpire shall then

(i) Warn both batsmen that the practice is unfair and indicate that this is a first and final warning. This warning shall apply throughout the innings. The umpire shall so inform each incoming batsman.

(ii) Whether a batsman is dismissed or not, disallow all runs to the batting side from that delivery other than any runs awarded for penalties.

(iii) Return the batsmen to their original ends.

(iv) Inform the captain of the fielding side and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of the reason for this action.

(v) Inform the scorers as to the number of runs to be recorded.”

Sonu played 22 First-Class matches and 50 List A matches for Haryana and Tripura. Though he was a more than competent left-arm spinner, he never reached 30 with the bat.

Jadeja was at it again at Faridabad in 1997-98. Haryana were reduced to 341 for 9 before Jadeja added 72 with Vineet Jain — of which the No. 11 scored a duck! Jadeja scored 242 not out and Haryana won by an innings.

Brief scores:

Haryana 147 in 38 overs (Ajay Jadeja 74) beat Services 113 in 35.1 overs by 34 runs.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)