Ravindra Jadeja - Version 2.0 of Team India's 'Sir'
A lion attacks but a wounded lion annihilates. This axiom seems to have turned true in Indian cricket in the past one month, as Ravindra Jadeja has scripted a robust comeback to the international circuit, having stayed out of action for 9 months of the cricketing calender, apart from a lacklustre Test against Afghanistan.
It was the ICC World T20 in 2009 and 2010 that made Jadeja popular for all the wrong sorts of things, as he was termed the reason behind India's ousters in the events. Perhaps, the support of MS Dhoni was the only valuable achievement in the initial years of his career, as he failed to make an impact.
It was another ICC event - Champions Trophy 2013, that enabled him to redeem himself and pitch his talent on the world map of cricket, bagging the Golden Ball award in the tournament, which further led him to the zenith of ICC ODI Bowlers' Rankings for a brief period. Henceforth, Jaddu became an integral unit of the national squad in all the three formats, with his accurate bowling, athletic fielding and batting cameos down the order.
Ironically, it was yet another ICC event - the successive Champions Trophy in 2017, specifically the infamous run out of Hardik Pandya, that made us love to hate him again. As 2018 approached, Team India got set for their overseas assignments in SENA countries, being termed as an 'unprecedented opportunity to script glory'.
Despite being the World No. 3 bowler, Jadeja was not given a chance weave his mastery against the Proteas. Not being picked for the Nidahas Trophy, in which India sent a relatively inexperienced unit, seemingly added insult to injury. Jadeja was also sidelined for 4 of the 5 Tests against England, with an in-form Kuldeep Yadav and injured Ashwin preferred ahead of him at Lord's and Southampton respectively.
However, fortunes favoured the brave, as Jadeja made a cut in the XI in the dead rubber against England. He claimed 7 scalps with his accurate spells of bowling and played defiant knocks to save the match. Although his efforts went in vain, but one fact was crystal clear - Team India got back its 'Sir'.
It seemed to be the start of a resurgent phase for the southpaw, as injuries to Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel came as blessings in disguise. Jadeja, who was preparing himself for the Vijay Hazare Trophy, instead found himself in the flight to Dubai, to take on Bangladesh in the Super Four encounters of Asia Cup.
He got off to an eventful comeback, with a no-ball on the second delivery reminding of the ghosts of the past. What followed were two boundaries by Shakib Al Hasan, but Jaddu had the last laugh as he sent the all rounder packing in the subsequent delivery. He cleaned up 3 other batsmen to claim the Man of the Match award on return.
As an emotional Jadeja walked to receive the award, he admitted his desperation to return to the squad which was evident in the count of days that he had kept. Promising to deliver with the bat, he lived up to it in the encounters against Afghanistan and the summit clash against Bangladesh, as we witnessed a new version of Ravindra Jadeja the batsman, who batted with much more responsibility, testifying his credentials as the 'Sir'.
In the Test against Windies, the Juggernaut Jadeja continued his sublime form, finally crossing the three-figure barrier with an unbeaten century in front of his home crowd, and following it up with 4 wickets and a ludicrous run out.
Making way for young wrist spinners after being an integral part of the squad, and creating ripples into the international circuit out of nowhere, the past one year has been a rollercoaster ride for the all rounder from Saurashtra.
He now presents himself as a serious contender for the spot of all-rounder in the limited overs, with the 2019 World Cup in sight, and would surely be kept in the scheme of things in Test team that tour Australia towards the end of the year.