To see Ravindra Jadeja at the fitness test camp in Kolkata two days before India flew to Bangladesh was a bit surprising. It was an examination for the Test players but Jadeja was also there because of his prolonged shoulder injury.
It had ruled him out of the Test series in Australia and almost jeopardised his World Cup participation. Since the World Cup had been planned for almost a year, Jadeja couldn’t have been dropped just like that, and hence his inclusion as the designated No. 7.
He never crossed 25, and his best bowling figures were 2/23 against UAE.
Jadeja was almost invisible despite playing every match. Cut to the IPL — which was Jadeja’s launchpad — and he again didn’t cross 25 in his 12 innings, although he showed his worth with a match-winning haul of 4/11 for CSK against Rajasthan Royals.
Jadeja’s fielding too took a hit in the league. His skipper MS Dhoni, who usually shows little emotion on the field, pointed it out when Jadeja’s throw from deep midwicket was way off target.
With the World Cup behind them, India are open to looking for better options. Dhoni confirmed that.
“If you look at the top four or five batsmen, it seems if they are fit and in decent form, they are the ones who may go into the next World Cup or Champions Trophy.
But maybe what we need to improve here is No 5, 6 and 7, particularly 7. That is because often the No. 7 batsman has to bowl 10 overs. So, we are still looking,” he said on Wednesday, on the eve of the first ODI against Bangladesh.
In the build-up to the World Cup, left-arm spinner Axar Patel had done enough to stake claim to that spot.
He was the top wicket-taker in the 5-0 home series sweep of Sri Lanka in November. Over the last two IPL seasons, his ability with the bat has been much appreciated.
Experience gave Jadeja the advantage when the Cup probables list was pruned, but with India looking ahead, his place may be up for review, more so with Stuart Binny in the squad.
Dhoni, however, gave mixed signals.
“He did a decent job in the IPL. I felt even in the World Cup he did a good job. Definitely, if you come after an injury, you tend to think a bit about it if it’s your bowling arm.
I feel he has got more and more confident about that, and we have seen a lot of improvement. So, hopefully we will continue with it,” he said.
But with Dhoni also weighing other options for the No. 7 slot, Jadeja will have to do something special in this series.