Who should be playing at No 7 for India? The question is the most popular point of debate and one doesn’t need rocket science to decode the answer. The player at No 7 has to be an all-rounder.
Let’s see who fits the bill best. There’s been a lot of debate on bringing Irfan Pathan back. The player has shown enough talent and temperament to become a genuine all-rounder. Pathan could be the ideal No 7 for he has the sense to farm the strike and the guts to use the long handle to good effect.
Unfortunately, his bowling has put him off the radar. He seems to have lost pace and swing lately, which means he must bowl with the new ball and stay away from the death overs.
But don’t we already have Praveen Kumar with the same profile? India can’t have both Praveen and Pathan in the XI for both can’t be bowling in tandem with the new ball. More importantly, your spinners can’t be bowling in the batting power play and death overs. Irfan might be a better batsman but only three quick bowlers can play in the XI, which means Pathan must bowl his quota of 10, which seems difficult in the sub-continent, or so the team management believes.
Since the World Cup is in the sub-continent, good thinking says we’d need a spinning all-rounder rather than a fast-bowling one. The toss-up is between Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja. Ideally, the No 7 batsman should be a big hitter who can hit sixes with ease and going by that criterion, Pathan Sr fits the bill perfectly. That’s why selectors put him on trial but his inability to hit consistently and, more importantly, his inability to bowl seven-eight overs on a regular basis cost him his place.
Now, the only available and promising option is Jadeja. He might be the last choice but not necessarily a bad one. The only thing that goes against him is that he’s a grafter, not a big hitter and you’d seldom wish for a grafter at No 7. But he’s bringing enough to the table to make up for the shortcoming. He’s bowling his quota of 10 overs at a miserly economy of under-five runs an over. He also chips in with a wicket or two, and is one of the best outfielders with extremely quick legs.
Though Jadeja hasn’t set the world alight with the bat, he still averages in the mid-30s in ODIs, which isn’t poor. His critics seem to be mixing his T20 failures with his showing in ODIs, which is not fair.
Presumably, India will go with Jadeja for the World Cup. Once they have identified Jadeja as their ideal No 7, it’s just to persist with him, especially when he’s doing his job.