A number seven batsman in a line-up plays a crucial role since he has the responsibility of scoring quick runs towards the end of the innings. Inevitably, he is also expected to pick up a couple of wickets. This is what India have been expecting Ravindra Jadeja to do for the last two seasons or so. One more occasions that not however, the youngster, who is now a seasoned domestic player having notched up three triple centuries, has failed to deliver. On Tuesday at Kochi against England, he eventually proved his capability.
The stage was set for Jadeja to make an impact when he came in to bat. India were stuttering at 174 for 5 in the 40th over, with M S Dhoni once again running out of partners. Before this match there were serious concerns as to whether Jadeja had theability to hit the big shots. He hadn’t displayed any such talent in the preceding games, as a result of which his position in the team was being seriously questioned, and rightly at that since he wasn’t contributing with the ball as well. At Kochi, he finally rose to the occasion.
The left-hander put together an innings that was near perfect in execution when it came to a number seven batsman. Jadeja began by hanging around to get his eye in, but unlike in his past, he did not leave with the job undone. This was the innings that Indian cricket needed to see from Jadeja, just to be sure that they are not placing their faith in the wrong man. On Tuesday, Jadeja hinted that he can be the man for the job. During his blistering of 61, Jadeja matched Dhoni stroke to stroke, something which very few cricketers can do, at least looking at the manner in which Dhoni is batting these days.
Even after the Indian skipper departed following another valiant innings of 72, Jadeja ensured that he made the most of even the last few deliveries left. He stole 14 runs from the last three balls, including a massive six off the last ball, to lead India to an impressive total. The late assault by Jadeja also saw to it that India went into the break on a psychological high, similar to what Samit Patel and Craig Kieswetter did to India in the opening game at Rajkot. It almost looked as if Dhoni and Jadeja were exactingrevenge for that embarrassment.
Having made a major contribution with the bat, it was also good to see Jadeja make an impression with the ball. Of course, his job was made easier courtesy yet another brilliant spell by Bhuvneshwar Kumar at the top of the innings. His three-for set up things perfectly for the Indian spinners. And although the match was all but in India’s grasp by the time Jadeja came on to bowl, he did well not to relax and kept the pressure on the struggling English batsmen.
The man-of-the-match winning performance was proof of Jadeja’s potential. Now for some consistency.
--By A Cricket Analyst