When Ravindra Jadeja was initially selected in the Test squad for the series against England, it was on the back of two big triple hundreds in domestic cricket. As such, he was expected to do a competent job for the Indian team lower down the order with the bat. It has been quite the reverse so far though. While he is yet to make an impact with his batting on the international stage, his bowling performance in the ongoing Tests against the Aussies has been exemplary. True, it was always known that he is a decent left-arm spinner, but his effectiveness with the ball has been pleasantly surprising.
What Jadeja has done very well in the Tests against Australia so far is make the batsmen play as many times as possible. Ravichandran Ashwin may be most successful bowler in the series for India so far, but it has been Jadeja who has been the more impactful. He has consistently bowled in the right areas and has been rewarded suitably. Jadeja’s dismissals of Michael Clarke have been particularly standout. It is a known fact that Clarke is Australia’s best player of spin, and he was in exceptionalform in the first two Tests. However, Jadeja has made him look his bunny in the last few innings.
Agreed, the pitches have been responsive, but that alone cannot be enough for a spin bowler to taste success in Indian conditions. The secret behind Jadeja’s wicket-taking spree has been that he has pitched the ball in the right areas and has got it to spin enough so as to beat the batsman’s defence. This has been clearly evident in the case of Clarke wherein the bowler has found a way through Clarke’s strong technique more often than not.
The success of Jadeja as a bowler has been a major factor in India’s bowlers getting the better of the Aussies in the series thus far. Also, it has been due to Jadeja’s success with the ball that India haven’t missed the services of Pragyan Ojha, who has been India’s best spinner in recent times. Jadeja’s highly efficient bowling performance has also been the reason why India weren’t severely affected in the first two Tests although Harbhajan Singh was below par. Considering his performance with the ball in the first two Tests, it thus wasn’t surprising that Jadeja was chosen ahead of Harbhajan when the team management decided to include Ojha in the playing eleven.
If only Jadeja can now prove himself with the bat, he can be a great asset to India, especially in helpful conditions at home. India have always been searching for a good number seven, who can make contributions with both bat and ball. Jadeja has shown promise, and India would be keen to see him grow in the position. The bigger issue is whether he can be equally efficient in away conditions, but that question can be answered only when India play away from home. As of now, he must look to carry on the good work, and improve significantly on his batting efforts.
--By A Cricket Analyst