ICC World Cup: This team may not have a Yuvraj, but they have a Jadeja

It’s time to celebrate the senior allrounder’s contribution more in Indian cricket

Ravindra Jadeja, the unassuming all-rounder, shines with a five-wicket haul in the Cricket World Cup  (photo: ICC)
Ravindra Jadeja, the unassuming all-rounder, shines with a five-wicket haul in the Cricket World Cup (photo: ICC)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

A day before the India-South Africa match at the Eden, head coach Rahul Dravid spoke about how Ravindra Jadeja’s contribution often goes under the radar. This only compliments captain Rohit Sharma’s observation about the senior allrounder’s role being ‘under-appreciated.’ 

For far too long, the ever-smiling, effervescent Jaddu has served as the foot soldier for Indian cricket. Not too many remember that the 34-year-old had taken his international bow way back in 2009 around the same time as some of the other elder statesmen of the team like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma – even a year before Ravi Ashwin. 

Is it the easygoing demeanour, and often not being a glib talker, which has stopped him from not getting his due? Despite being one of the few cricketers in the team who is a certainty in all formats, fitness permitting, Jadeja was never considered to be a material for vice-captaincy over the years. His tryst with captaincy with Chennai Super Kings, albeit brief, was not a happy one either as it ended with a perception that he was not a captaincy material - but he has taken it all in his stride and moved on. 

A look at Sunday’s game reflects again, Jadeja’s stitch in time has again been overshadowed by the bigger stars in the constellation. As the cricketing world was busy doffing their hats to Kohli for emulating Sachin Tendulkar’s mark of 49 ODI centuries on his birthday, Jadeja became only the second Indian spinner after Yuvraj Singh (2011) to claim a five-wicket haul in the 50-overs World Cup. He is also only the seventh among Indians to reach a fifer in the history of the showpiece. 

 While Indian cricket fans have rued the absence of someone like Yuvraj Singh of 2011 ahead of the World Cup, Jadeja is a much more quality spinner and has provided enough substantial contributions with the bat over the years. There are three Test centuries in his name as against Ashwin’s five, while batting at No.7 or 8 has often barred him from doing full justice to the batting potential. 

It was a point well addressed by Dravid on Saturday when he said that unlike the top five in a batting line-up like India, there are matches where Jadeja doen’t get a bat – or comes in at the fag end of the innings.  ‘’As an allrounder – it is our role that if in a tough situation, they have to make 30, 35, 40 runs and when the partnership is in place, they can change the game by taking one or two wickets. That's their role,’’ Jadeja summed it up late on Sunday after a late assault of 29 from just 15 balls. 

 ‘’I always try to give an impactful performance in batting or bowling. When the team needs me, in any department. And I never take fielding for granted. I also feel that I can miss a catch. So, I am always more prepared that if I get a catch, I don't relax on the field. 

‘’So, I just keep trying. Sometimes I do (succeed), sometimes I don’t. But I keep trying,’’ Jadeja said at the post-match media briefing.  

An honest trier - Indian cricket will do well to remember him that way after a journey through 14 years through 67 Tests, 194 ODIs and 64 T20Is, not to speak of being a IPL super achiever! 

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Published: 06 Nov 2023, 1:10 PM