Indian captain Virat Kohli has shown a lot of faith in the batting ability of Ravindra Jadeja, especially in the Test format. He promoted Jadeja to No. 6 in the second Test against South Africa at Pune, signaling a long-term investment in the left-hander's batting skills.
In the first Test at Vizag too, Jadeja was promoted to No. 6 ahead of a specialist batsman (Hanuma Vihari) and the wicket-keeper batsman (Wriddhiman Saha). But that was at the time construed, possibly rightly, as an attempt at accelerating India’s run rate in an attempt to declare sooner.
Jadeja scored 30 runs in quick time, and did his job reasonably well.
In the second innings there was no doubt whatsoever about why he was promoted to No. 4 in the second innings, ahead of even Kohli himself. India needed quick runs as time was running out, and Jadeja again did a terrific job by scoring a quick-fire 40 off just 32 balls.
But unlike those two ‘promotions’ that seemed like temporary decisions, there was an element of assurance when Jadeja batted at No. 6 in the second Test at Pune. India were playing with five bowlers, five batsmen and a wicket-keeper who is a capable batsman himself. But by asking Jadeja to bat at 6 ahead of Saha, Kohli showed immense faith in the batting ability of his all-rounder.
Jadeja batted solidly, as a proper batsman befitting that position, and still scored at a quick pace. He narrowly missed out on scoring his second Test century in the pursuit of quick runs, but he had done enough in the company of Kohli to help India declare at 601 runs.
This successful experiment of having Jadeja bat at No. 6 in Test matches should be persisted with, especially if India go in with five bowlers. And when they go in with four bowlers, he can still be asked to bat at 6 so that his position remains the same regardless of India’s team composition.
Jadeja's batting, especially in longer formats, is nothing to be scoffed at - both in international games (Tests) and domestic tournaments (first-class). In 45 Test matches, he has scored at an average of almost 35, with one century. And in 98 first-class matches, he has scored 5651 runs at an average of about 47.
What is most striking is the fact that he has amply demonstrated the ability to score big runs, as his three triple tons testify.
On the evidence of his batting in the current series and his career statistics, there is no reason why Jadeja should not be considered as a long-term No. 6 batsman for India in the Test format.