Young Ravindra Jadeja has turned out impressive performances as an left arm spinner in the two Tests that India played against Australia so far. Having made his Test debut against England at Nagpur in the last home series, Jadeja has nudged out the other left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha in the playing eleven in the current series as an utility all-rounder. Apart from his more than useful left-arm spin, 24-year-old Jadeja has revelled as a fielder. The run out to dismiss Moises Henriques from short covers was one of the highlights of India’s innings win at Hyderabad.
His performances has already pleased his skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was in a search of an all-rounder who can be useful with the willow at the number seven spot, at least on Indian conditions. Jadeja, who has played 65 one-dayers and 14 Twenty20s, may not have contributed much with his bat but his incisive bowling has seen him capturing 11 wickets in the first two Tests. He has proved to be an able foil to off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. Jadeja has performed even better than 101-Test veteran Harbhajan Singh.
The deliveries to dismiss Henriques in the first innings and skipper Michael Clarke in the second innings were classical left-arm spinner’s wicket. The ball spun from middle before pitching across the right hander’s bat to disturb the off-stump. Former Test left-arm spinner SL Venkatapathy Raju said both the deliveries were unplayable ones. “I think the wicket of Clarke, who is a lovely player of spin, was a beauty. The Aussie had no clue to that particular delivery and it would delight any spinner,’’ said Raju.
Raju feels that Jadeja has more than cemented his place in the Test squad with his performances so far in this series. “With Jadeja contributing very well, Ojha is a victim of circumstances. It can be frustrating at times specially after being the highest wicket-taker against England in the previous series. It is unfortunate. But that it is cricket,’’ said Raju.
Jadeja, according to Raju, is growing in confidence. “He is more and more a wicket-to-wicket bowler. He bowls tight and has been successful in this role in the shorter formats of the game. But in the last two Tests, he has shown more variations with the ball and has even been bowling at a good trajectory. He is able to get some purchase from the wicket and with the little turn, he has troubled the Aussie batsmen. He is more like England’s Monty Panesar, bowling quicker through the air,’’ said Raju, adding, “Jadeja is turning out to be a perfect package for India in the series.’’
In the past there were left-arm spinners who could bat lower down the order. Among them was Sunil Joshi, who was considered as a bowling all-rounder who could bat. The former India left-arm spinner said that Jadeja was primarily picked as batting all-rounder.
“But he has made his presence felt more with the ball. I would like him contribute with the bat also. But as a bowler, he has made impressive strides in the last two Tests. Jadeja is a multi-dimensional player. But I still think Ojha is the number one left-arm spinner in the country. However, if one looks at team combination with Australians having so many left-handers. Dhoni had to go with the second off-spinner in Harbhajan Singh,’’ said Joshi.
Joshi feels that it is time for Ojha to focus also on fielding otherwise the competition will become stiffer. “The pressure is on Ojha but with little bit of hard work, he can make a comeback into the team,’’ concluded Joshi.