Will Ravindra Jadeja fire? That was the question the Indian team management was looking for answers.
Jadeja repaid the skipper’s faith in him by finally scoring a knock of substance in the quarter-final against Bangladesh the other day. His breezy unbeaten 23 was instrumental in India reaching the 300-run mark. Once India crossed that psychological mark, Bangladesh came a cropper. Besides those crucial runs, Jadeja also claimed two key wickets and affected a brilliant run-out.
It must be mentioned that Jadeja has three triple centuries in first-class cricket, a feat only the Australian great the late Sir Donald Bradman has achieved, but the Saurashtra all-rounder’s utility to the Indian team has been more in other departments than in batting in the World Cup. His acrobatic fielding and accurate throwing have distinctly stood out in a group of players which, according to Ravi Shastri, is the best fielding unit he has ever come across.
But Mahendra Singh Dhoni has always expected more from his ‘Sir Jadeja’ than diving on the field and hitting the stumps. “No one scores three triple centuries without any batting skills,” the India skipper said when asked about the team management’s persistence with Jadeja. Dhoni always hoped it was a matter of time before Jadeja came good with bat and ball. He did so in the quarter finals.
It was the kind of stuff that Jadeja is capable of – precisely the contribution Dhoni expects from him. His return to form could be crucial for India’s chances in the semi-finals as he has tormented the Aussies when they were in India last time. He was impressive both in Tests and ODIs when India hosted the Australians in two separate series in 2013.
The Australians have always struggled against Jadeja’s tenacious spin bowling. With the Sydney Cricket Ground traditionally assisting spinners, India should be going into the semi-final against the hosts with a lot of confidence. Only the other day, Imran Tahir and JP Duminy, who are said to be nowhere near the class of Jadeja and his spin partner R Ashwin – claimed seven wickets at the SCG against a line-up of Sri Lankan batsmen, who are known to play spin well. India should be too happy to be playing on such a surface.
Above all, Jadeja will be required to play at the best of his abilities to try and clinch the tie in favour of India.