Should Jadeja be part of India’s squad in white-ball format?
There isn’t much time left before the T20 World Cup kicks off in Australia and the teams have to be accurate with their planning for the mega event starting later this year on October 18. As we already know, India are suffering from ICC trophy drought since their triumph in Champions Trophy 2013. The Men in Blue have come close, qualified for the knockouts every single time since then. However, India have failed to breach the knockout barrier for quite some time.
The Indian head coach Ravi Shastri revealed in an interview with India Today, “It’s a bloody obsession to win a World Title.” Shastri spoke that he is confident of chasing an ICC trophy with this Indian team. The Indian captain Virat Kohli often talks about planning for T20 World Cup in interviews, during the toss and in post-match presentations. “Pretty much on track, the main focus is to see youngsters take up the pressure – need to see who can do that, in big games, we need 11 fit players ready to go,” were the Kohli’s words during the toss for the second T20I against Sri Lanka. He also mentioned about Prasidh Kirshna in the post-match presentation. So, it is safe to say that the preparations are in full swing in the Indian camp.
One thing which has been forcing India to change their team combination is the unavailability of Hardik Pandya at times. Pandya who is India’s premium all-rounder, at least in the white-ball set up, has been suffering from injury issues of late. Thus, India have been sticking with Ravindra Jadeja for a while in all the formats. Jadeja is the perfect all-rounder India need in the longest format. However, the same can’t be said when it comes to limited-overs cricket. So let’s discuss why India should move on from Jadeja in white-ball cricket.
Jadeja the batsman:
In the absence of Hardik Pandya, one thing which keeps Jadeja in the contention in India’s limited-overs squad is his batting. He has improved his batting by leaps and bounds in the last few years, but that’s more suitable for the Test cricket. You might get reminded of the semi-final match between India and New Zealand in the World Cup 2019. A top-order collapse and no significant contribution from the middle-order. Amidst all that, Jadeja stood tall for his team and played a wonderful knock. But that was just one knock, with due respect.
The southpaw has a career batting strike rate of less than 100 in T20Is and of about 86 in the 50-over format. That’s way below par for someone playing in the lower-order, in the hope of quick runs. He is yet to play an inning of 15+ runs with 120+ strike rate in T20Is. Since 2016, Jadeja has played just two ODI knocks of 20+ runs with a strike of more than 120. His strike rate in ODI cricket is of about 93 since 2015. Since IPL 2015, Jadeja has managed to have a strike rate of 125+ in just one season – IPL 2017.
Jadeja’s role in white-ball cricket is to accumulate runs in the slog overs at a quick rate. These stats tell that Jadeja has failed to deliver the goods with the bat considering his role. Jadeja finds it tough to go hard from ball one, and rather prefers to take some time before going berserk. His role in the Test cricket is quite favourable for him and suits his gameplay. Jadeja is allowed to bide his time and has proved to be an asset in the lower order for India.
Therefore, India’s hope from Jadeja to perform like Hardik Pandya the batsman in limited-overs cricket is a false ploy. After the World Cup 2019, Kohli spoke that he wanted batting depth till number ten in the Indian team. The concept of batting depth is a disadvantage to have if it compromises the quality of bowlers in the side. Well, that’s a different topic of debate. But, Jadeja is not the best option available for that specific role.
Jadeja the bowler:
The 31-year-old is a bowling all-rounder and it is fairer to judge him on the basis of his performance as a bowler. In his international T20 career of 46 games, the left-arm orthodox spinner has picked up 35 wickets. He has gone wicketless in as many as 20 T20Is. Coming to his performance in the IPL since 2015, Jadeja has snared 50 scalps featuring in 76 matches across five seasons. In this duration, he went wicketless in 38 matches. Since 2016, Jadeja picked up 37 wickets with an average of over 46 in ODIs. He failed to pick up a wicket in 15 out of 38 matches in this format.
Thus, Jadeja’s inability of picking wickets is quite visible. The modern-day cricket demands wicket-taking bowlers. Not picking up wickets in the middle overs allows the batsmen to get set which has great disadvantages. If a batsman manages to remain not out in the middle overs, he becomes quite dangerous in the death overs. India reaped rewards by picking up wickets in the middle overs when they played Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
The main point is that India have many better wicket-taking options than Jadeja: Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Rahul Chahar, Shreyas Gopal and a few others. The wrist spinners will be quite useful in Australia because of the huge grounds. India might look to have one finger spinner in their squad for the T20 World Cup 2020. And, it should be either Krunal Pandya or Washington Sundar. Neither is a power-hitter against extreme pace. It will mainly depend on their form and thus their performance inIPL 2020 will be crucial. Krunal looks a better hitter than Sundar.
Coming to bowling, Krunal has done well in the IPL and been decent in T20Is as well. The weightage of Krunal’s performance increases in the IPL, particularly when you consider the home ground of Mumbai Indians which is a batting-friendly ground. On the other hand, Sundar has not played enough games in the last couple of seasons.
Krunal has produced three match-winning performances in the shortest format at the international stage and has bagged three ‘Man of the Match’ awards so far. Krunal also won a ‘Man of the Series’ award in the away series against the West Indies in 2019. The off-spinner from Tamil Nadu was presented with ‘Man of the Series’ award in the Nidahas T20 Tri-Series in 2018. Meanwhile, Jadeja won a ‘Man of the Match’ in T20Is, way back in 2012. The all-rounder from Saurashtra won just two ‘Man of the Match’ awards since 2015 in the One-Day Internationals.
Thus the things are pretty clear. India should move on from Ravindra Jadeja in white-ball cricket for their own good. Kohli and Co. have better resources and should look to utilise them properly.