Analysing whether Ravindra Jadeja should be included in India's limited-overs setup
After watching Ravindra Jadeja scoring a chanceless 86 not out and taking 4 for 79 in the Oval test, the question on everyone’s mind is why he has not been selected for the Asia Cup? His exclusion from India’s squad for the Asia Cup is baffling. At the Oval, Jadeja showed a lot of application while batting and plenty of patience and persistence while bowling.
The Indian Team Management’s call on Jadeja
The Indian team management is unsure about Jadeja ’s role in the team ’s scheme of things. A year back, Jadeja was a regular member of Team India in all formats of the game. Now, all of a sudden, he finds himself as a Test specialist who is rested for ODIs and T20Is.
In overseas Test matches, the think- tank has been playing only one spinner in the team in tune with the prevailing conditions. Their first choice spinner has been Ravichandran Ashwin. Jadeja has been a passenger in all these overseas tours.
Starting from the Test series in South Africa, India had played 8 overseas Test matches, out of which Jadeja had been selected only for the very last Test match at the Oval. In between, he had just one day at the office in the Bangalore Test against the minnows Afghanistan. Effectively, in the last seven months, Jadeja had played only 7 days of International cricket.
It is not a strange coincidence that ever since Ravi Shastri’s return as India Head Coach, Jadeja hasn’t featured in India’s blues. In the initial periods, the selectors have “rested” Jadeja for the ODIs and T20Is. Other times he has been “rotated” or shuffled”. But now it has become quite clear that he has not been preferred.
Why has Jadeja fallen out of favour in white ball cricket?
The arrival of the wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal has brought about a change in the overall outlook of the team management. The wrist spinners are looked upon as attacking options who are capable of taking 2 to 3 wickets in the middle overs.
The good thing about Chahal and Kuldeep pair is that they back themselves even after getting hit for runs. They back themselves to stick to the basics when under pressure. They both complement each other perfectly. Teams like England, Australia, and South Africa are vulnerable against wrist spinners.
The advent of Hardik Pandya as a fast bowling all-rounder has denied Jadeja of his rightful place in the playing XI. Hardik Pandya is more than handy as a bowler on helpful overseas conditions and an attacking option with the bat.
Of late, Axar Patel has been preferred as a like-for-like replacement for Jadeja. Axar Patel is an economical bowler and has not done badly in the limited opportunity that he has got to play.
How can Jadeja be different from other contenders?
For starters, Ravindra Jadeja has been a successful left-arm spinner for India for the last so many years. He is a proven performer. At one point of time, he was the No1 ODI bowler in ICC rankings. Jadeja became the first ever Indian left-arm spinner to take 150 ODI wickets.
Jadeja has played so many crucial innings for India in ODIs batting down the order. He can be used as a finisher along with Hardik Pandya. If the situation demands, he can be promoted up the order as he is a busy and aggressive batsman. The added advantage is that he is a left-hander and the Indians at present do not have a quality left-hand batsman in the middle order.
Jadeja is a terrific fielder and is a live wire on the field. He brings a lot of energy to the team. No one can forget the catch he took in the World Cup T20 match against Bangladesh at Bangalore to dismiss Mahmadullah. It was a pressure catch in the last over of the match but Jadeja took that catch nonchalantly. Whenever the ball is hit in the vicinity of Jadeja, the bowlers and the captain heave a sigh of relief. There is no doubting the fact that Jadeja is the best fielder in this India team. He is one player who will always make something happen on the field.
Jadeja’s continued exclusion is a clear indication that he is not in the immediate scheme of things in both ODIs and T20Is. It seems the team management is in the process of identifying format-specific players, that is to have different players for different formats.
The team management is prepared to give a long rope to Kuldeep Yadav and Chahal for their fearless approach and wicket-taking abilities. But the danger lies in excessive attacking which would lead to leaking lot of runs by the wrist spinners from both the ends.
While all his rivals are all one-dimensional players, Jadeja is a genuine all-rounder in white ball cricket. Team India would be a more balanced one day and T20 team if and when Jadeja is back in India’s blues.