You cannot help but admire Ravindra Jadeja every time he shimmies down the track to loft the bowler over his head; every time he bamboozles batsmen with his accuracy; every time he dives or inflicts a miraculous run-out like only he can; and off-course every time he wields his bat like a sword after completing a milestone. Jadeja in Shane Warne‘s terms is a cricket version of a rockstar or in MSK Prasad’s words: A real 3D Player, if there ever was one. On Friday, the wielding of the bat was in full flow as the Indian all-rounder completed his 8th fifty-plus score since the start of 2017.
It was a precarious time for Team India when Jadeja walked out to bat late on Day 1. India, after recovering from a dismal 3-25, courtsey a defiant 81 from Rahane and useful contributions from Rahul  and Vihari , had lost two quick wickets late in the day and needed another dodged stand to get something close to 250 or even 300.
And, the hope dwindled when incumbent keeper Pant nicked off in only the second over of the second day. With India’s tail boasting of a notorious reputation of not putting any prize on their wicket, everyone thought the pre-mature demise of innings looked imminent.
Well! Except for Jadeja
And, it wasn’t something you won’t expect from a batsman who has scored three triple hundreds in First-Class cricket and has over 5,000 FC runs to his name. Won’t you? For any other batsman not named Jadeja, those numbers are good enough to break into any International side as a pure batsman. Add his wicket-taking ability and his Jonty Rhodes-esque fielding to his resume, and you’ll get a real “3D” player if there was ever one.
And, still, Jadeja does not find himself a regular spot in the Indian side? In fact, the likes of Sunil Gavaskar raised their eyebrows and were astonished at the exclusion of Ashwin from the first Test. Jadeja’s underachievement with the bat during the first four years of his Test career coupled with Ashwin raising the bar as far as his batting was concerned to go along with his superior bowling skills, meant Jaddu was always looked upon as the second choice spinner in the Test team.
The emergence of Hardik Pandya as a fast-bowling all-rounder and Kuldeep Yadav as a chinaman spinner didn’t help his cause, either and often we would see him warming the bench whenever India toured overseas in the last cycle. But as they say, uncertainty around your spot plus the adversity and criticism like the one Jaddu faced after he ran-out Hardik Pandya in the 2017 Champions Trophy final, brings out a beast in you. And, the beast of calmness, self-assurance, and enough-confidence in his batting ability; something which was missing in the first eight years of his International career and four years in red-ball cricket.
Jadeja’s batting evolution since 2017
Over the last couple of years, Jadeja has finally begun to realize the immense ability he has with the bat. It all started with a 60* against Bangladesh in 2017 where he added crucial runs with the lower order. But the real test of his temperament was yet to come. After having warmed the bench during the entirety of the South African tour, and a major portion of the England tour, Jadeja finally got a chance in the Oval Test.
The left-hander scored a crucial 86, adding 55 important runs with the tail while batting at No.8 in tough conditions besides taking seven wickets in the match to showcase his credentials as a top-quality all-rounder. Jaddu followed that up with his maiden Test century at Rajkot before scoring an excellent 81 at the SCG, while batting at No.8 again.
Since 2017, Jadeja has scored 695 runs at an average of 46.33 including seven half-centuries and a hundred. In fact, Jadeja has the highest average (51.38) among all batsmen (between 7-11) who have played at least 10 innings, ahead of the more celebrated names like Jos Buttler (40.44), Ben Foakes (41.50), Rishabh Pant (48.53), Quinton de Kock (39.91).
Jadeja’s 77 off 59 deliveries in the World Cup semifinal gave the Indian fans hope of an unlikely victory and a glimpse of his evolution as a batsman. On Friday, we saw another glimpse of his transformation as a batsman (58) who is adept with the trait of batting with the tail and soaking in the pressure and taking the side out from a precarious position.
Jadeja- The Batsman- 2.0? Bring it on. We can’t be more excited.
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