The visitors are the only team to have won a Test series in India in the last 10 years and are keen on making amends here after a low key 1-1 draw against Bangladesh.Now in Indian conditions, Virat Kohli will obviously look up to his spinners once again to deliver when it matters and who else will he bank on than Ravichandran Ashwin and a certain Ravindra Jadeja.
‘Jaddu’ as the latter is lovingly called by his teammates is one of the most crucial members of the young Indian side. Since playing his first game way back in 2009, Jadeja has come a long way competing against the likes of Pragyan Ojha. Today, both Kohli and MS Dhoni (India’s limited-overs captain) feels he is a match-winner and rarely pen down a playing XI without him.
His brilliant showing in the 2008 Under-19 World Cup pushed him into the limelight and a year later he got his first international call-up versus Sri Lanka. It was hard for the all-rounder at first. He neither had much variety to trouble the batsmen, neither was he scoring big with the bat. As a result, he was found himself in and out of the squad and was left out of the 2011 World Cup team.
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But Jadeja was not the one to give up that easily. He worked hard in the training grounds and got himself immortalized in Indian cricket’s history books by becoming the first batsman to score three first-class triple-centuries in the 2012-13 Ranji season.
As a result, he was roped into the Indian squad again. He played just one game in India’s 1-2 Test series loss against versus England in 2012 but then there was a turnaround in fortunes for him. The left-arm tweaker played a key-role in the 4-0 hammering of Australia after the England series. Against the current World Champions, he had picked up 24 wickets at an average of 17. The highlight of the series was Jadeja getting rid of captain Michael Clarke five times in six innings.
Then came the Champions Trophy in England that year and Jadeja once again was instrumental in his side lifting the trophy for the second time. His rich form with the ball was enough to get him to the top of the ICC ODI bowling rankings a few months later.
Jadeja’s recent form in Tests has been quite good
Though he was considered a perfect all rounder for ODI’s his Test cricket credentials were always questioned. After an indifferent World Cup campaign in 2015, he once again performed in domestic cricket to bolster his case for cementing a place in the Test squad. In the Ranji trophy that season he picked up six consecutive five-wicket hauls and amassed two fifties.
He once again had a chance to impress in the Test series against South Africa in 2015. The surfaces that hosted the four Tests gave lavish assistance to the spinners and the Saurashtra tweaker was unplayable at times. He picked up 23 wickets to help India seal an emphatic 3-0 win. Just before the series Indian legend, Sunil Gavaskar had said Jadeja would come good and he did exactly that.
“Pick Jadeja in the playing XI. He can bowl beautiful deliveries as he did a couple of years back against Australian captain Michael Clarke in Mohali,”Gavaskar had said. “In limited-over matches, he can be a bit expensive but in Tests, he is the ideal number seven player. He is a fabulous fielder also and so he can contribute in all departments of the game.”
Jadeja also ensured through his performances in the series that no one would throw him from the Test playing XI anytime soon. His partnership with Ravichandran Ashwin was also the most dominating thing in the series.
It was only the second time the pair had dominated in such a way since the 2013 series versus Australia. The duo combined to account for 54 South African wickets with Ashwin claiming 31 scalps.
Jadeja’s has had a mixed bag of performances recently. He was far from impressive in the World T20 earlier this year and found it difficult to hold onto his place in the playing XI in the West Indies tour as Kohli brought in Cheteshwar Pujara to strengthen the batting.
In the recently concluded Test series against New, Zealand Jadeja found some form with both the bat and the ball to notch 129 runs and bag 14 wickets. He and Ashwin once again formed a lethal combination to have the Kiwi batsmen strangled in spin. Due to their exploits, India won the series 3-0.
His record against England isn’t impressive but he is all geared up for the challenge
The 27-year-old doesn’t have the best of records against England, except for memorable half ton which helped push his side to victory in a Test match in 2014 at Lord’s. Otherwise, he has not quite had a great outing against the Englishmen.
In five games he has scored just 189 runs and has taken 12 wickets. But he has been in quite a good form of late and would be desperate to prove himself again when he takes on Alastair Cook's men. He could just be India’s X-factor.