Why is Jadeja in the India team? The all-rounder answered just why in Cuttack

Ravindra Jadeja
©Reuters
 

As a bowler, Jadeja does have a limitation with the white ball to state the obvious, but when it comes to batting, Jadeja is at his absolute best. He has been timing the ball sweetly this year and is almost impossible to overlook.

Ravindra Jadeja and finishing matches -- whenever you hear these two words together, the mind automatically wanders to the ODI World Cup semifinal against New Zealand. It was so near, yet so far then.

Although in a much low-profile match, it was in a decider nonetheless that the all-rounder set the record straight, taking the team over the line from a crunch situation.

There has been much debate over the spot of Jadeja in the limited-overs format. Many believe that he is prone to leaking plenty when the batsmen go after him and hence leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal is a way more attacking option. But, what we often forget is his utility with the bat.

The injury to Hardik Pandya has meant that Jadeja has become almost indispensable to the balance of the side. India is one of the few teams in the word cricket where no one in their top 6 bowls and hence playing an all-rounder becomes a necessity.

If Kohli & Co had gone with Chahal, as was being vehemently advocated, the team would have been without a proven batting opinion from No 7 onwards, which is not ideal your number. Nos 7 and 8 may not we use every game but when they are once in three-four matches make or break the match for you.

Apart from providing his full quota of 10 overs more often than not, Jadeja averages over 30 with the bat in ODIs. In 2019, he has scored at almost 35 with a strike rate bordering on 100, which is more than handy given the number at which he bats.

Jadeja came out to bat with Team India struggling at x-y. Virat Kohli was striking the ball cleanly but he was looking short of patents. Despite openers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma getting the team off to a good start, the totals of 300+ are never easy to chase. To add to the drama, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant threw their wickets away, when all they needed to stay at the wicket with the skipper.

Jadeja started with a cool head and pinched singles. It only helped that the two are great runners between the wickets. However, just when the team almost looked home, Kohli too lost his wicket.

"Shardul and Jaddu finishing is very good to see, these guys finishing the game is a much bigger thing. I had a nervous look when I walked back, but when I watched Jaddu he looked very confident.," Kohli said at the post match presentation.

The all-rounder didn't disappoint.

"After Virat got out, I kept telling myself that I need to play till the last ball. When Shardul came in, I told him to just bat properly, not play silly shots, and look to time the ball. The wicket was so good and the ball was coming on so nicely.... I need to prove to myself that I'm still capable in limited-overs cricket. I don't need to prove anybody else in the world," Jadeja emphasised later.

It was great to seem him having a chat with Shardul Thakur almost every ball, to keep the Mumbai lad's passions in check.

As a bowler, Jadeja does have a limitation with the white ball to state the obvious, but he's been working on his limited-overs skills. When it comes to batting, Jadeja is at his absolute best and has been timing the ball sweetly this year.

Jadeja may not always be among the XI, but he is too tempting an option to overlook in the squad. The all-rounder provides Team India with permutations and combinations in the absence of Hardik Pandya.

When Pandya returns to the side, India will probably go back to their policy of Kul-Cha and Jadeja will have to sit out in a few games. But, the batting, bowling and fielding package that the Saurashtra player provides is underrated and many teams across the world will give their arm to have a player like him, which the cricket community in India possibly doesn't realise as much.

©Cricket World 2019