In the latest ICC Test rankings, Ravindra Jadeja has maintained his top position on the bowlers list but for the first time in his career, he has achieved the No. 1 position among all-rounders. In the process, the Saurashtra lad has also established himself as the lynchpin of the Indian Test side.
In the last couple of years, Jadeja’s bowling has come of ages and fantastically, he also stepped out of R Ashwin’s giant shadow to carve a distinct niche for himself. Jadeja is no longer merely the holding bowler, but a serious wicket-taker in his own right. The left-arm spinner’s ability to bowl quicker through the air has given him seriously incisive strings, and on the surface which provides a little purchase for the spinners, he proved that he can be deadly dangerous with his accurate stump-to-stump target.
With the bat too, the Rajput boy has also started to deliver goods on a consistent basis from last year. Earlier, despite having the skill of a proper batsman – three first-class triple-hundreds are the testimony to it – he didn’t back his ability to score runs at the highest level. But, now alongside, Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha, Jadeja has formed a brilliant lower middle order for the Test team that allowed bowlers the luxury of time for having a crack at the opposition.
So, let’s have a look at his five best performances in the last two years:
1. 38 and 8, 3/55 and 5/21 against South Africa in Mohali, 2015
After making his debut against England in December 2012, Jadeja had cemented his place in the side by then. In 2015, India played the first home Test series of the year against South Africa in Mohali but got off to a bad start as the whole team were all-out for only 201, but Jadeja managed to hang around in the middle and scored a patient 38 runs for the team. Later, the Indian spin duo of Ashwin (5/51) and Jadeja (3/55) made sure that the visitors couldn’t take the lead as they wrapped up the Aussie first innings in just 184 runs. In the second innings, Jadeja handled the bowling attack really well and his five-
2. 51, 7/48 and 3/106 against England in Chennai, 2016
In 2016, India played a four-match Test series against England with the fourth and final Test match being played at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. While that match was remarkable for Karun Nair’s swashbuckling triple century, that also proved a memorable one for Jadeja as his all-round performance helped India beat England by an innings and 75 runs. The boy from Saurashtra made 51 runs in the first innings as India posted their highest ever total of 759. He produced his magic with the leather as he picked seven wickets for the first time in a Test inning. To go with spectacular all-round performance, he gobbled up two fine catches as well - one of Jonny Bairstow where he judged the direction of the shot perfectly and charged towards the ball near the mid-wicket boundary to perfectly gobble that up. He glided around 30-35 metres for doing the same but didn’t have any time to judge the catch as the shot was not a skier rather a parallel one. The catch acted as a catalyst for the team as India sent seven Englishmen to the dressing room in less than two sessions to win the game on a track where only 17 wickets fell in 13 sessions and a batsman had already scored a triple century. He also picked up three wickets in his second essay to guide India to a memorable victory at the historical Chepauk.
3. 6/63 and 1/3 against Australia in Bengaluru, 2017
Australia visited India for a four-match Test series and started their campaign with a grand win as they won the first Test match by 333 runs in Pune. But in the next encounter at the Garden city of Bengaluru, India bounced back strongly and registered a 75-run win. But the start of the match was not well for the hosts as they bowled out for a paltry 189 runs in their first essay giving rise to the repeat of the act of the first Test. But Jadeja had some other plans in his mind as he sent six Aussies back to the dressing room in no time while giving away only 63 runs in the process. Jadeja’s performance motivated Team India to level the series. In a game in which fortunes fluctuated till the very end, Australia were needing only 187 runs to win, but this time, Ashwin delivered the telling blow taking six wickets to give India one of the most memorable wins of the home season.
4. 54 not out, 5/124 and 4/54 against Australia in Ranchi, 2017
As the season went on, Jadeja got better and better. The third match of the series against Australia was played in Ranchi and the visitors started the game really well and scored 451 in their first innings. Jadeja, though, managed to grab five wickets. His contribution with ball encouraged team India to put a huge score of 603 where Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha built a strong partnership of 199 runs. Jadeja contributed with the bat as well as he scored unbeaten 54 runs in the game. In the second innings, the southpaw picked up four Kangaroos batsmen to cap off a memorable Test.
5. 63, 1/57 and 3/24 against Australia in Dharamsala, 2017
The entire series between Australia and India was an epic one where each session was a stage-play and each day was an epic in some way or other. And the final Test was also no different as well. After restricting Australia for 300 in 88.3 overs, Wriddhiman Saha and Ravindra Jadeja pieced together probably the most pivotal stand of the series - an association of 96 runs that turned potential deficit into morale-lifting lead. By the time Australia whittled away at the Indian resistance during an extended opening session on Day 3, India had added 84 to their overnight tally, posted 332 and opened up a lead of 32 runs. After a valuable contribution with the bat, Jadeja produced another incisive spells with the ball to give India a 2-1 series win and thereby bagging the Man of the series award as well.
Ravi Rampaul or Shane Shillingford? Who will take more wickets?
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