A Ravindra Jadeja performance India needed ahead of the World Cup
Ravindra Jadeja was India’s best bowler against Nepal in Pallekele, as he snared as many as 3 wickets while conceding only 40 runs in his spell. While these figures might have come against an inexperienced Nepal team, it was a necessary performance for both Jadeja and India ahead of the crucial phase.
It may sound surprising, but Ravindra Jadeja was going through a worrying phase with the ball before this game in the ODIs. While his batting numbers were superb, more than ideal for a No. 7, he looked toothless with the ball at times.
Since 2020, Jadeja has 386 runs at an average of 42.88 and a strike rate of 77.66, including two fifties, in 16 ODI innings. However, he could pick up only 13 wickets at an abysmal average of 52.30 and a strike rate of 61.38 in this period. Jadeja went wicketless in eight of the 16 innings before the Nepal game.
Among all the players from World Cup teams to have played a minimum of 15 innings, Jadeja took the joint fourth-lowest wickets (13) at the third-worst average (52.30) and strike rate (61.38). His economy rate was six or above in five innings, and he didn’t finish his quota sometimes as well.
Ravindra Jadeja has always been a fantastic defensive spinner, but his wicket-taking abilities in white-ball cricket have always been under the scanner. The team added two wrist spinners to increase their chances of taking wickets during the middle overs for this very reason. During this lean patch, this loophole resurfaced significantly when he even failed to put a leash on the scoring rate.
The rise of Axar Patel meant that the pressure on him to perform was more than ever. Leading into the World Cup, a team wouldn’t have wanted an out-of-form spinner to operate on the Indian tracks. His batting might be a bonus, but Jadeja’s primary role will always be as a bowler. With Yuzvendra Chahal not a part of the setup anymore, Jadeja needed to upgrade himself, and he did exactly that.
Ravindra Jadeja did most of the things right on a track, providing slight help for the spinners in Pallekele. He mixed his pace and trajectory precisely to keep the batters guessing, and Jadeja also got a bit of a turn off the surface. He flighted the odd ones to trouble the batters and pile the dot balls, and his quicker ones fetched him wickets.
Jadeja found his length pretty early in his spell, and his lines were a lot straighter, as it didn’t provide the batters to break free. Kuldeep erred on his lengths at times, but Jadeja was relentless. It is exactly what the team expects from Jadeja in white-ball cricket - control.
It was not an immediate and sudden resurgence of Ravindra Jadeja. The improvement started in the IPL, where he was the second-highest wicket-taker (20) for Chennai Super Kings. The 34-year-old showed immense control with the ball and is now replicating the same for India.
Ravindra Jadeja showed positive signs against the West Indies earlier, but this was probably the best he bowled for India in recent times. Jadeja needed a performance like this for his own confidence. He would take this three-for as a fresh start in the 50-over cricket.