Former Test skipper MS Dhoni wanted Ravindra Jadeja to bat ahead of him as he knew the all-rounder from Saurashtra had the ability of bat up the order. It never happened as there were better batsmen up in the order.
Jadeja wasn’t disappointed, and stayed on the lookout to score big runs. His first half-century at Lord’s in the second Test against England gave proof. Jadeja not only stunned the England bowlers, he showed he isn’t an easy nut to crack, especially while batting in tough conditions.
His lofted shots through the line gave proof of his hand-eye co-ordination, and a similar performance here on Sunday underlined his potential as a useful batsman down the order.
Promoted ahead of R Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha on the penultimate day of the historic 500th Test, the left-hander didn’t allow the Black Caps’ bowlers to settle down and scored a quick 58-ball unbeaten 50, which contained two boundaries and three sixes. His unbeaten 100-run sixth-wicket partnership helped India get a hold on the match.
Jadeja flexed his muscles and whirled the bat on Sunday after reaching the half-century mark, quite like the act at Lord’s. He attacked the slower bowlers, especially leg-spinner Ish Sodhi and off-spinner Mark Craig, hitting them for a couple of sixes. In the first innings, he scored an unbeaten 42 off 44 balls with the help of seven fours and a six.
Not once did he look in trouble against spin, and it was his experience on such wickets that helped. “Since my junior days, I have played on similar pitches, same conditions. We have also played on underprepared pitches so that gives you experience,” Jadeja had said after taking five wickets on Saturday.
His enthusiasm to bowl after India declared the second innings at 377/5, stretching their overall lead to 433, was inspirational for the younger generation. He bowled 60 dot balls out of 84 deliveries and conceded just eight runs.
Kiwi bowling coach Shane Jurgensen praised Jadeja and Ashwin for their outstanding performance. “They basically create a lot of pressure. They make you play the ball consistently, they bowl straight and are very experienced,” he said, adding, “It’s shown the little adjustments they make, position on the crease, angles, field placements, they are obviously very good at that. Like we saw with their batters in their conditions, we saw the way they bowled in their conditions.”
The turn Jadeja is getting from the pitch will severely test the Black Caps, who will need to pull off the highest-ever chase to win here on Monday.