He was not under the threat of being over-shadowed, let alone ignored, but his commitment shone bright when he ran back from mid-wicket to get his hands under the skier that emerged when Johnny Bairstow flicked a fuller length delivery from Ishant Sharma on the final day of India’s five-Test series against England at the MAC Stadium in Chennai.
It was an outstanding effort, one that had fitness, commitment and belief written all over it. And one that helped him bring the focus on his fielding skills as well. With 26 wickets, including his maiden 10-wickets-in-a-match haul in Chennai, and 224 runs in the five-match series, his has been no mean contribution to India’s 4-0 victory.
Indeed, it speaks volumes of Ravindra Jadeja’s skills and temperament that he stamped his presence – and tellingly at that – in a series in which skipper Virat Kohli and R Ashwin turned in stellar performances. He has been a crucial cog in the team’s wheel, putting his hand up each time the team called on him.
As someone whose presence could make captains MS Dhoni and Kohli keep seemingly better left-arm spin bowlers out of the XI, Ravindra Jadeja was always under pressure to deliver high quality performances with the ball, even if his skills with the bat were the reason he got the skippers’ nod. He has always chipped in and now has 111 wickets in 25 Tests.
Evolving as a student of the game
His evolution as a student of the game is so apparent now when he creates pressure by giving little away, his nagging accuracy being a hall-mark. His understanding of angles helps him, too. With an uncanny ability to vary the pace and the revolutions he imparts to the cricket ball, besides making it hold its line, he is able to create doubts in the minds of the batsman.
Self-belief as a cornerstone
His self-belief magnifies and optimises his skills as a left-arm spin bowler. With time, he has understood the value of patience and adapting to the conditions. His fitness is such that he can bowl long spells without flagging. Besides, he can quickly identify the areas on the pitch from where he could obtain some purchase.
He is still some distance from completing the all-rounder’s double – 152 runs away to be precise – and there will be suggestions that he is still a work in progress as a Test batsman. But the two half-centuries in the series are enough evidence of his development and it will not be long before he can be pushing the likes of Ashwin and Jayant Yadav for a slot higher up in the order.
For all that, the 28-year-old from Rajkot has shown that he was born to and Lives to Play!