The apprehension that accompanied Ravindra Jadeja’s initiation into the Test side is gradually being trundled out. When he made the debut ahead of Ajinkya Rahane in Nagpur against England, one felt there were too many knives pointed at him, too many cynics waiting for that one failure to plot his ouster.
A slightly surprising predicament was that he was fresh from two triple hundreds this season in the Ranji — and the only Indian to notch up three, which puts him in the elite bracket of Don Bradman, Brian Lara, Bill Ponsford, Wally Hammond, WG Grace, Graeme Hick and Mike Hussey.
But Jadeja has not only cemented his spot in the side but also has underlined his utility to the side, though not with his primary vocation of batting. His left-arm spin has had a telling effect on the series, and had Australia’s best batsman, Michael Clarke, in more than strife.
For the fourth time in the series, he dismissed Clarke, on the back of a record-breaking, run-making season. The method of dismissals indicates that his wickets were no fluke — twice was he bowled and once stumped. The bunny suggestion was almost inevitable. “There is nothing like that. My plan is to bowl straight and not give them any width for hitting boundaries. I was lucky on Friday. I just bowled in the right areas,” said Jadeja.
Unlike in Chennai and Hyderabad, he had little assistance from the wicket. “Compared to Chennai and Hyderabad, it had little turn. The ball is not gripping of the surface and I think it’s a good wicket to bat on,” he said.
Then he’s not someone who relies overtly on conditions. Of course, on a turning track, he can be unplayable.
Unerring accuracy is his strength, as he shackles the batsman with a tight length. Of the four Indian spinners in the series, he has been the most economical (2.15), and work-rate-wise, he has been bowling as much as the front-liners (only Ravichandran Ashwin with 150 overs has bowled more than Jadeja’s 123). Gradually, he is piling up wickets, too (14 at 18.92, the best average among quartet).
He was Dhoni’s go-to man on the second day, whether to pick wickets or choke one end up. Creditably, he managed both. “Even though we didn’t get wickets in the first session we weren’t frustrated,” he said.
Moreover, he renders balance to the side. Jadeja has afforded Dhoni to promote himself to number six. Now, if only Jadeja the batsman too clicks.