When Ravindra Jadeja made his international debut back in 2009, he was looked at more as a bits and pieces player. In fact, he was more of a batsman than a bowler, indicated by the fact that he made 60 on his one-day debut. Over a four-year international career so far, his career has seen many ups and down. However, over the last six months Jadeja has resurrected his international career in an incredible manner, so much so that he is now the number one ODI bowler according to the latest rankings, on par with Sunil Narine of West Indies.
No praise can be too high for Jadeja for he has had to face plenty of criticism from all quarters during his down phase. For the first half of his career, he looked like an extremely mediocre player. The problem was he was viewed more as a batsman, but coming in at number seven he never managed to hit the big strokes, often being the culprit for India not finishing their innings on a high. Not surprisingly, he found his way out of the team more often than not, especially when India struggled.
With the ball as well, he was easy target for the batsmen. He let the pressure away with boundary balls, and opponents used to wait for him to come on to bowl. The lack of confidence was evident in his run up every time he came in to bowl. At one point there was even a conspiracy theory that Jadeja managed to hold on to his place only because MS Dhoni favoured having him in the side. However, his performances continued to remain below par, and it was only a matter of time before he was axed.
At being out of the side for nearly a year, Jadeja made a comeback at the start of the year on the back of some superb domestic showings. His performance since his return, especially with the ball have been top class, so much so that it has culminated in him climbing to the number one bowler in ODIs. The tide turned for Jadeja during his one-day series against England at home. The Englishmen had no idea how to deal with his spinning deliveries, especially the quicker one which took most batsmen by surprise. With nine wickets in five matches, Jadeja had announced his comeback.
There was a marked difference in Jadeja’s bowling now. He was a lot more accurate, and he could make the ball talk. Credibly, he did not slip following the impressive showing against England. He was India’s hero with the ball in Champions Trophy as well, claiming 12 wickets in India’s winning cause, including a magnificent five-for against West Indies. He came up with the goods in the tri-series in West Indies as well, claiming eight wickets, including four in the final. There wasn’t much challenge for him against Zimbabwe, but Jadeja did well enough to climb to the top of the ODI bowling rankings. India would be hoping he continues the great work in the times to come as well.
--By A Cricket Analyst