Exactly a year ago Ravindra Jadeja was an indispensable part of the Indian team. The southpaw played in all three formats — his wicket-to-wicket spin bowling complementing his athletic fielding and power-hitting down the order perfectly.
Cut to the present and the 29-year-old plays in just one format — that too as a second spinner behind R Ashwin in Tests. His place in the limited overs is completely taken over by the more adventurous and attacking Kuldeep Yadav. He is a certainty in Tests only at home and the only way he ends up getting considerable time out in the middle when abroad is when bowlers hit the dressing room for a break.
A Rajput by birth, Jadeja is a fighter at the very core though. Despite his limited skill-sets as a bowler that has pushed him down the pecking order, he refuses to give up. Whenever he’s on the pitch as a substitute, he pumps himself up with exceptional fielding, standards that not many in the team can match upto. That commitment finally had its rewards when Ashwin was rendered hors de combat for the fifth Test, paving the way for his return. And Jadeja grabbed it with both hands.
Sticking to his usual tight lines, he hardly gave anything away in bowling tight 24 overs. Ball after ball, over after over, he kept landing them at the same spot, hardly offering the English batmen any respite. He held one end up very nicely as the pacers attacked relentlessly from the other end. He ended up bagging two wickets too, first dismissing Keaton Jennings and then Ben Stokes.
Jadeja, addressing the media after a satisfactory day, said he’s not given up on his career and is confident of making a return to all three formats. “For me the biggest thing is that I am playing for India and maybe someday if I do well, I will be back playing all three formats of the game soon enough. But my work is whenever I get opportunity I should convert it into performance. When you are playing just one format it is very tough because there is too much gap between matches and the experience you need to play at international level is less. So you have to keep motivating yourself, that whenever you get a chance, like in this game, whatever ability I have, I have to give my best on the field.”
Jadeja said disappointments aren’t new to him and he’s looking at becoming the spinning all-rounder the teams needs. “Like I said, whenever I get an opportunity to play for India, I will give my best in both aspects batting and bowling. I want to become a trusted member of the team and I can fulfil the all-rounder slot well because I have done it before in the past.
It isn’t anything new to me. It is a matter of time, when you are going through a bad patch then to regain your old form and touch — it comes back as you play more. So it is possible. The more I play international cricket, the better I perform and I will be able to make a comeback in all three formats.”