Ravindra Jadeja, the Batsman, is Finally Here
Ravindra Jadeja stepped up and scored a 58 off 112 deliveries came when India were struggling at 189/6 in the 1st Test.
Ravindra Jadeja stepped up and scored a 58 off 112 deliveries came when India were struggling at 189/6 in the 1st Test.(Photo: Twitter/@BCCI)

Ravindra Jadeja, the Batsman, is Finally Here

The credibility of an all-rounder can be hardly questioned if he has over 5000 runs and 400 wickets in first-class cricket at excellent averages of 46.68 and 23.72 respectively.

However, these numbers hardly matter if he fails to replicate his all-round success at the international level. That in turn changes his role in the team. From an all-rounder, he is often reduced to a batsman who can bowl or a bowler who can bat, depending upon the area he flourishes in the most.

That’s exactly what happened with Ravindra Jadeja. The first four years of his Test career saw him flourishing only as a bowler.
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While he made his mark with the ball having claimed 111 wickets in 25 Tests at an impressive average of 24.07, he failed to deliver as a batsman as returns of 848 runs at a meagre average of 26.50 would suggest. Not only that, these runs included only four scores of fifty or more in a total of 38 innings.

In fact, expecting a century from him seemed like a distant dream. Make no mistake, he has three triple centuries in first class cricket. But, here, he was struggling to cross even the 50-run mark.

However, things started changing for him since 2017 and, two years down the line, it seems like his transformation into a quality batsman at the international level is finally complete as he scored his 11th Test fifty on Friday in the first match of the ongoing Test series against West Indies in Antigua.

His knock of 58 off 112 deliveries came when India were struggling at 189/6. They needed someone to step up and it was Jadeja once again as he stretched their score to a respectable total of 297 runs.

Over the last couple of years, he has developed an excellent quality of adding crucial runs down the order and his innings of 60* against Bangladesh at Hyderabad in 2017 could be referred to as the point where all of it began

Along with claiming 54 wickets at an average of 23.05, Jadeja had smashed 328 runs at an average of 41.00 in the space of just 10 matches during that year. These runs included four fifties as well, which was equal to his tally of half-centuries during the first four years of his career.

Thus, the batsman in Jadeja had started showing what he was capable of. However, the real test of his temperament was yet to come. He had underperformed in foreign conditions for long and India's heavy overseas tour scheduling in 2018 meant only one spinner between him and Ravichandran Ashwin was going to make the final XI.

File photo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin.
File photo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin.
(Photo: PTI)

As expected, Ashwin's reputation nullified Jadeja's chances of getting picked and, hence, he didn't get to play a single match during India's tour of South Africa.

Even though he was picked to play in the following one-off Test against Afghanistan at home, he was once again made to sit out during the major part of the following Test series in England.

But he pounced on the opportunity when he was picked to play in the final Test against England. He picked up seven wickets in the match and scored 99 runs batting at No 8, which included a superb unbeaten knock of 86 in the first inning

He made quite a statement with that knock in tough overseas conditions. The way he batted with the tail was tremendous

Ravindra Jadeja scored his first Test century against West Indies in Rajkot in 2018.
Ravindra Jadeja scored his first Test century against West Indies in Rajkot in 2018.
(Photo: AP)

Moroever, he followed that up with his maiden Test century, an unbeaten knock of 100, against West Indies at Rajkot. Jadeja picked up a total of four wickets to go with his batting exploits in the match as well.

However, the team management was still not sure about his abilities in overseas conditions and Ashwin started ahead of him once again in the Test series Down Under.

But the management did choose to turn towards him in the third Test at Melbourne. Although he failed to deliver in that match with single-digit scores of four and five across both innings, he made amends in the next match at Sydney with an excellent knock of 81 runs while batting at No 8 once again.

In fact, Jadeja has the highest batting average among all batsmen who have played at least 10 innings between positions seven and 11 since 2017.

He is ahead of batsmen like Rishabh Pant, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Quinton de Kock and Tim Paine in that respect. Hence, that tells a lot about the way he has improved himself as a batsman.

The most fascinating part about his batting in the last couple of years has been his ability to soak in pressure. His unbeaten knock of 86 against England at The Oval last year came under under a lot of pressure.

India’s Ravindra Jadeja celebrates reaching 50 runs during the fifth Test against England at The Oval  in London.
India’s Ravindra Jadeja celebrates reaching 50 runs during the fifth Test against England at The Oval in London.
(Photo: AP)

India were six down for 160 when he walked out to bat and then he added 77 runs with Hanuma Vihari and 55 more runs with the tail to stretch India's score to 292. His knock of 63* against Australia in Dharamsala back in 2017 is another instance of his fighting ability under pressure.

And if these knocks weren't enough, he showed his ability in the ODI format too.

Nobody can forget his effort in the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand. His innings of 77 runs off just 59 deliveries gave the Indian fans hopes of an unlikely victory.
Ravindra Jadeja smashed a half-century off 39 balls to keep India alive in their run chase in the ICC World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
Ravindra Jadeja smashed a half-century off 39 balls to keep India alive in their run chase in the ICC World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
(Photo: AP)

Jadeja had also played an impressive knock of 54 off just 50 deliveries against the same opponents in the warm-up fixture before the World Cup. All other Indian batsmen had failed to cope with the tricky conditions but Jadeja surprised everyone and showed that he had both technique and temperament like other quality batsmen.

The 30-year-old has now walked into India's XI in the ongoing first Test against West Indies as the first-choice player ahead of Ashwin. A year back, he had no chance of piping a player of Ashwin's calibre.

However, it is hard to ignore him now as he is in top-notch all-round form. Hence, the hard work he has done to improve his batting during the last couple of years is finally paying off

(Prasenjit Dey is a freelance cricket writer. He can be reached at @CricPrasen. The opinions expressed are the author’s own and The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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