Is Kedar Jadhav's presence in India's ODI team justified?
The number 6 batting position in ODIs is a vital one. On most occasions, the top and the middle order batsmen spend time getting used to the pitch and the bowlers; it is then up to the batsmen at No. 6 and 7 to provide the finishing touches to the innings and score runs at a quick pace.
Kedar Jadhav has been a crucial member of the Indian ODI outfit over the last couple of seasons, and has played several crucial innings batting at No. 6 for Team India in ODIs. In 32 ODI innings batting at that position, the right-handed batsman from Maharashtra has scored 997 runs at an average of 49.85 with two hundreds and three half-centuries.
Overall Jadhav has played 51 ODI innings and has scored 1389 runs for India at an average of around 42. He has been providing finishing touches to the innings and has also contributed with the ball in the past.
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Sure, a tally of 27 ODI wickets at an average of 37.78 does not exude much confidence. However, Jadhav is an intelligent bowler and has broken many crucial partnerships; he has been a real asset with the ball for Team India at times.
The last couple of years, however, have been a bit of a concern for Jadhav. His last ODI wicket was against Australia in March 2019. He bowled just 10 wicketless overs in three ODIs against West Indies at home in December 2019, and hasn't bowled since.
Though Jadhav's primary role is to score runs, with his bowling being an added advantage, it is difficult for him to justify his selection in the playing XI purely on his batting skills. He is not the quickest in the field, which is another negative point for the 34-year-old Jadhav.
His form and fitness have been under scrutiny for over a year now. In the 2019 World Cup he smashed a match-winning half-century against Afghanistan, but since then his returns have been rather underwhelming. In seven innings since the World Cup, Jadhav has scored 135 runs at an average of 33.75.
The next ODI World Cup is still three years away, and Jadhav will be 37 by then. The team management would want to groom and give a fair run to someone like Manish Pandey, who has been having a prolific run in T20Is.
Pandey averages 47.13 from 32 T20Is and is an experienced player who can play the role of a finisher. The likes of Rishabh Pant and Shivam Dube are also waiting for their opportunities to cement their place in the Indian middle order in ODIs.
Jadhav will have to pull up his socks and produce a better showing in the last ODI against New Zealand and also in the upcoming ODI series against South Africa at home (if selected). He has to bail India out when the top order fails to fire, and up the scoring rate when a solid platform has been built - both of which he has failed to since his fifty against Afghanistan.
The fact that Jadhav no longer bowls in ODIs is a big point against him continuing in the ODI team. If he fails to fire soon, it will probably be the end of the road for Jadhav in ODIs - which means India will have to groom another player for the vital No. 6 position.Published 08 Feb 2020, 23:00 IST