Things that helped Ravindra Jadeja evolve as MS Dhoni’s main man are his allround cricket skills and confidence. The India skipper admitted that to selectors. In a team undergoing transition, Dhoni has had to worry the most looking to fill the all-rounder slot. Last December he had said: “We don’t have one”.
Around that time, Jadeja’s inclusion into the Test side had evoked much criticism. Over the past few months though, Jadeja has answered his critics. He bagged 24 wickets in the four-Test series against Australia, virtually throwing out Pragyan Ojha as the second spin option after R Ashwin and then became the highest wicket-taker in the Champions Trophy in England. Most amazingly, on Sunday he became the first Indian bowler since Anil Kumble to top the ODI rankings.
"Confidence is his biggest asset. He is a fighter. He has the ability to win you matches from nowhere. He once ran out 3-4 players in an under-19 game against Maharashtra and turned the match around,” says Jadeja’s coach Mahesh Chauhan.
Nevertheless, his ascent and utility still doesn’t necessarily make him the most skillful of the spinners.
“He has grown in confidence since the Test series against Australia. He knows his limitations. Often, when you know your limitations, it becomes your biggest strength. He doesn’t have variations but he bowls within what he knows,” says former India left-arm spinner Maninder Singh. “He can bat as well. That adds to what he brings to the team. However, he is still not convincing with the bat.”
Jadeja has an explanation for it. A few months back he told HT, “Batting at No. 7 is not easy. You get tough situations from where you have to win games. I have been working on it in the nets.”
The last match in Zimbabwe must have given him some confidence. He made an unbeaten 48 coming in at No. 4.