The selection committee’s decision to pick Ravindra Jadeja in the Test squad for Nagpur as Yuvraj Singh’s replacement seems a no- brainer.
After all, the Saurashtra boy whacked two triple centuries in the space of three weeks and is fitter, more agile and a better part- time leftarm spinner than the man he replaces.
And yet, there seems to be hardly any chance of Jadeja making his Test debut ahead of Ajinkya Rahane, given that the Mumbaikar is a better pure batsman, something Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team is in dire need of given its performances over the last year or so.
If at all the selectors were considering someone else, to pitch for Jadeja ahead of Rohit Sharma and Manoj Tiwary seems a fallacy.
Being a bits- and- pieces player is alright in one- day cricket, and a boon in T20s, which has led to Jadeja playing 58 ODIs and earning a $ 2million contract with the IPL’s Chennai Super Kings. But to transfer those skills to Tests is another matter altogether.
This is why somebody like Robin Singh, a late 1990s ODI stalwart, played just one Test.
While a first- class 300 is rare, and therefore no mean feat, one needs to balance that stat with the fact that Jadeja got those triples against lessthan- mediocre attacks from Gujarat and Railways, on highways in Surat and Rajkot respectively.
In fact, Daljit Singh, the chairman of the BCCI pitches committee, was quoted as slamming the Surat wicket, while Rajkot has for long been considered a beyond- redemption graveyard for bowlers. Yes, it is true that Cheteshwar Pujara has been brought up in those same conditions, but he has scored runs all round the country and on ‘ A’ tours before being brought into the team. Taken out of his comfort zone, Jadeja managed scores of 13 and four in Hyderabad, and five and nought in Mohali.
Even in terms of overall record, Jadeja is not much of a big innings player. In 64 first- class innings, he has passed a century just seven times, with his three Ranji triples in the last two years boosting his average to 53.66.
In contrast, Rohit averages 60.56 in 80 first- class innings, and has passed hundred on 13 occasions, including a triple. Tiwary averages 58.86, and has 17 centuries to his credit in 92 innings. That’s higher than Pujara’s century strike- rate.
Rohit and Tiwary were far ahead of Jadeja in the pecking order, but the latter has forced the world to take notice of him this season. But if his past record is anything to go by, he will still need to be a lot more consistent to be a Test No. 6 for India.