IPL 2021: Jadeja's all-round show against RCB puts CSK on top of table
Those who may yet dare to doubt the value of Ravindra Jadeja, the all-rounder, in Indian cricket across formats - if there are any left, that is - would do well to save the highlights reel of Sunday’s IPL encounter between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
With the bat that often transforms into a sword, Jadeja earned his team 37 runs off the final over of the first innings, more than any RCB batsman could muster in the entire run chase. And it came against RCB’s death specialist Harshal Patel who, before that over, had three wickets for 14 runs. Jadeja left the Purple Cap holder somewhat red-faced, smacking him for five sixes - all in the region between midwicket and long-on - a four and a couple in the seven-ball over courtesy a no-ball. That lone effort swelled CSK’s total from 154/4 after the 19th over to 191/4.
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With the ball that often darts and twirls off his left-arm orthodox, Jadeja sent back RCB’s two destroyers-in-chief with contrasting deliveries: Glenn Maxwell with a full one that held its line to crash into the leg stump and AB de Villiers with one that spun from outside leg to clip the middle stump while beating Mr 360’s outside edge. It was after he got No. 3 Washington Sundar holed out to deep midwicket to begin his spell in the seventh over. Jadeja ended with figures of 4-1-13-3, better than any bowler on the day.
With a rocket left arm that often creates moments of magic on the field, Jadeja caught Dan Christian short at the striker’s end after de Villiers attempted a single by pushing the ball to the covers. Jadeja came rushing in, took aim and hit bullseye in one quick motion.
An unbeaten 62 off 28 balls, three wickets in four overs and one run out. Anything else, Sir Jadeja?
The CSK all-rounder’s individual skills were enough to stop the collective run of an unbeaten RCB, who fell short by 69 runs chasing 192 on a Wankhede Stadium pitch that was atypically slow and got slower baking in the afternoon Mumbai sun as the game progressed. CSK handed RCB their first defeat of this season and displaced them at the top of the table.
The only way RCB could’ve prevented that after the fast end to the first innings was an equally rapid start to the chase. They did that, with Devdutt Padikkal and Virat Kohli racing to 44 in three overs. But both got out in successive overs; Kohli edging a Sam Curran ball with some extra bounce to MS Dhoni and Padikkal (34, 15b, 4x4, 2x6) hitting a length ball on his hip straight to short fine leg off Shardul Thakur.
Jadeja was brought into the attack straight after the Powerplay, after which RCB crashed from 65/2 to 83/6 in a four-over phase where an individual’s brilliance took centre stage. With the contest dusted in the 11th over once de Villiers walked back, RCB merely stretched the inevitable till the 20th over, trudging to 122/9.
There were early signs that captain Dhoni got his reading of the pitch and a rare decision to bat first on Wankhede spot on. CSK openers Faf du Plessis and Ruturaj Gaikwad tried to force the pace on the wicket by stepping down the track and hitting boundaries off RCB pacers Mohammed Siraj and Kyle Jamieson within the first four overs.
Yuzvendra Chahal came in as early as the fifth over and immediately got the ball to rip off the surface. But the Indian-South African opening combo used the depth of the crease to go with the dancing shoes with poise and balance, finding a boundary in every over of the Powerplay save the second without any undue risk or funky shots as CSK motored to 51 in six overs.
The controlled partnership forced Kohli to turn to his go-to man this season, Patel, earlier than he might have wanted but it was Chahal who earned the breakthrough in the 10th over. Gaikwad (33, 25b, 4x4, 1x6), who clobbered the leg-spinner for six down the ground in his previous over, holed out sweeping one that was pulled back in length and pace by Chahal.
That would prove to be the template on the wicket even for the fast bowlers, which Patel was quick to gauge when he came back for his second spell in the 14th over. Suresh Raina, batting at No. 3 in the absence of the injured Moeen Ali, saw a couple of mistimed heaves sail beyond the ropes but couldn’t flex enough muscle to power a Patel slower ball beyond the deep midwicket fielder. Ditto off the next delivery with du Plessis, who brought up his half-century off 40 balls earlier in the over, getting caught at long-on as Patel’s cutters were piercing through the CSK batting line-up.
The wound would’ve been deeper had Christian held on to a straightforward chance at deep midwicket in the 15th over by Sundar when Jadeja was on nought. Instead, it was a dagger in RCB’s heart with Jadeja’s last-over exploits.