25th April, 2021, 18.5 overs into the Chennai Super Kings' innings, Ravindra Jadeja takes guard to face Mohammed Siraj. The latter fires a yorker and the CSK all-rounder does extremely well to squeeze it out towards deep mid-wicket. Unsurprisingly, Jadeja and MS Dhoni hare down the track, hoping for a second run to ensure that the CSK skipper remains on strike.
Halfway through, Dhoni realizes that the second run would be pretty tedious, meaning that he sends Ravindra Jadeja back. While there was plenty of cricketing logic to merit it as well, it perhaps even signalled that Dhoni – a captain who has nurtured Ravindra Jadeja like no other, was willing to lend someone who was once described as a ‘bits and pieces’ cricketer, the stage that Dhoni has often owned.
Over the next few minutes, Ravindra Jadeja repaid every ounce of faith and walloped Harshal Patel for five sixes in the last over alone. That he also accumulated 7 more runs and notched up the joint highest over tally in IPL history only illustrated the impact he had made in such a short span.
Prior to that over, though, Ravindra Jadeja had showcased a few of his usual failings. He began his innings sluggishly and was also guilty of taking the impetus out of CSK’s essay, which up to that point, seemed primed to breach the 180-run mark.
Yet, under the most remarkable of circumstances, he turned things around and portrayed why he remains one of the premier death-overs batsmen in the country.
The most interesting bit, throughout it all, was that he was content to bide his time and wait for his moment to shine. On quite a few occasions previously, he hasn’t trusted his skill-set, meaning that he has, at times, even been found wanting in clutch situations.
However, this blitzkrieg only proved that Ravindra Jadeja 2.0, or the Ravindra Jadeja post 2016, is a different kettle of fish altogether. Or, in simpler terms, a cut above the rest.
Apart from his batting exploits, Ravindra Jadeja also spun a web with the ball. In the first over he bowled, he accounted for Washington Sundar, whereas he was on hand to castle Glenn Maxwell, an over later. The crowning glory of his spell, though, was the dismissal of AB de Villiers.
In the opening few deliveries, both Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni worked out that the pitch was just holding up and that it was going to assist the spinners. Understandably, Ravindra Jadeja began tossing the ball up a lot more and it reached a crescendo when he lobbed one up on leg stump, only for it to dip and rip viciously past AB de Villiers’ bat.
And, if that wasn’t enough, he also produced a remarkable run-out – one that didn’t just seem improbable but was also beyond the reach of anyone not named Ravindra Jadeja.
Ravindra Jadeja is the true embodiment of a 3D cricketer
Thus, in a matter of a couple of hours, Ravindra Jadeja had highlighted why he is considered one of the best all-rounders in the world. More tellingly though, his performance against the Royal Challengers Bangalore shed light on why he might just be the ace of that particular pack.
For starters, there aren’t many current cricketers who boast the potential to affect the game through any of the three suits (batting, bowling and fielding). Though the likes of Andre Russell, Ben Stokes, Kieron Pollard and to an extent, Glenn Maxwell come to mind instantly, neither has the flexibility and the variety to come up trumps in different conditions.
While Pollard and Russell have significantly lowered their bowling burdens, Maxwell and Stokes aren’t really world-beaters (as bowlers) in T20 cricket. Ravindra Jadeja, on the other hand, is someone who can walk into most sides as a primary spinner, irrespective of the conditions. And, when the pitch starts turning, he is a bowler each team would give an arm to acquire.
On the fielding front, well, Ravindra Jadeja competes in a short list to be one of the greatest fielders the world has ever seen.
However, there is a bigger backdrop to Ravindra Jadeja catapulting himself as a genuine all-rounder in T20 cricket. Back in 2019, during the World Cup, Sanjay Manjrekar had infamously quipped that Ravindra Jadeja was just a ‘bits and pieces’ cricketer and one that had to be sacrificed for specialists, especially in white-ball cricket.
Now though, two years later, Ravindra Jadeja has perhaps cast himself as a specialist across all suits and formats, far away from the ‘bits and pieces’ label he was accorded.
In blunter terms, Ravindra Jadeja is very much the whole and the heartbeat of every side he features for. He is just that good. And, anyone who suggests otherwise, might want to watch his virtuoso outing against RCB on the 25th of April, 2021.
After all, on that sultry evening at the Wankhede Stadium, Ravindra Jadeja was on a level that mere mortals can only aspire to get to. Maybe, the term ‘all-rounder’ captures him perfectly, for there is nothing he can’t do on a cricket ground.
Quite some redemption, eh?