He is the subject of numerous online jokes, ranging from cricketing to personal, often providing a sense of comic to what Ravindra Jadeja does. His match-winning deeds are compared to none other than the southern superstar Rajnikanth, who is deified through an incessant flow of jokes.
Jadeja entertains in many ways. His long-winded answers at press conferences are a source of mirth too. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, his India and Chennai Super Kings skipper, mocks him in his tweets.
But the 25-year-old takes the “knighthood” and “Sir Ravindra” jokes sportingly, and even laughs at himself. The one other thing that is amusing and confusing about him is whether he is a batting all-rounder or bowling all-rounder, or a genuine all-rounder! Arguments, for and against, add to the fun. No one knows which Jadeja will wake up that day.
Against Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday, there was a fair bit of both. In the end, it was a job almost single-handedly done, 35 not out and 4/33 to seal a tense match in Dubai. Such performances lead to another debate, about his role in the team.
By his own admission, and that of his coach Mahendra Chauhan, he is a bowling all-rounder. But three triple centuries in domestic cricket means not many will buy that argument. Some believe Jadeja is trying to mask his batting credentials. Some say it’s a trick to escape heavy criticism whenever he fails with the bat.
Amidst these debates, there are two qualities he always displays — accuracy and discipline. The ability to pitch the ball at the same spot with only the speed varying — anywhere between 78-105 kph — plays on the batsman’s mind. Some deliveries turn sharply, others keep straight. That makes batsmen prime candidates for leg before. And a flat trajectory gives little time for batsmen to get under the ball to play big shots in T20s.
He is also at peace with his batting technique. Not always over-ambitious, his realistic assessment of the wicket means the focus is on running hard between the wickets and playing big shots only occasionally — utility over frills.
The jokes around Jadeja — over his moustache, his $2 million tag and Shane Warne dubbing him a rockstar – are but a happy distraction. Amidst all that, a serious cricketer goes about his business without fuss. And the quick runs or wickets in a bunch just indicate that the competitive streak takes over when things turn serious for his team. And it did on Wednesday.